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Full text of "The works of George Meredith"

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http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924064984713 



THE WORKS OF 
GEORGE MEREDITH 



MEMORIAL EDITION 
VOLUME 



XVI 



GEORGE MEREDITH 



DIANA OF 
THE CROSSWAYS 



A NOVEL 




NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
1910 



(■ 1^ N C; I I 






AS0Z335' 



Copyright, 1897, 
BY GEORGE MEREDITH 







DEDICATED TO 

SIR FREDERICK POLLOCK 
Bart. 



CONTENTS 



CBAP. PAOB 

I. OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS TOUCHING THE HEROINE 1 

II. AN IRISH BALL 20 

III. THE INTERIOR OF MR. REDWORTH AND THE 

EXTERIOR OF MR. SULLIVAN SMITH ... 33 

IV. CONTAINING HINTS OF DIANa's EXPERIENCES 

AND OF WHAT THEY LED TO . . . .44 

V. CONCERNING THE SCRUPULOUS GENTLEMAN WHO 

CAME TOO LATE 58 

VI. THE COUPLE 69 

VII. THE CRISIS 79 

VIII. IN WHICH IS EXHIBITED HOW A PRACTICAL MAN 
AND A DIVINING WOMAN LEARN TO RESPECT 
ONE ANOTHER 88 

IX. SHOWS HOW A POSITION OF DELICACY FOR A 
LADY AND GENTLEMAN WAS MET IN SIMPLE 
FASHION WITHOUT HURT TO EITHER . . . 103 

X. THE CONFLICT OF THE NIGHT .... 113 

XI. RECOUNTS THE JOURNEY IN A CHARIOT, WITH 
A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF DIALOGUE, AND A SMALL 
INCIDENT ON THE ROAD ... .118 



viii DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

CHAP. PAGE 

XII. BETWEEN EMMA AND DIANA .... 127 

XIII. TOUCHING THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION 135 

XIV. GIVING GLIMPSES OF DIANA UNDER HER CLOUD 

BEFORE THE WORLD AND OP HER FURTHER 

APPRENTICESHIP .... . 145 

XV. INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER . . 161 

XVI. TREATS OF A MIDNIGHT BELL, AND OF A SCENE 

OF EARLY MORNING ... . . 173 

XVII. 'the PRINCESS egeria' ... . 190 

XVIII. THE AUTHORESS 202 

XIX. A DRIVE IN SUNLIGHT AND A DRIVE IN MOON- 
LIGHT . . 212 

XX. Diana's night-watch in the chamber of 

DEATH 223 

XXI. 'the young minister of state' . . . 233 

XXII. between DIANA AND DACIER : THE WIND EAST 

OVER BLEAK LAND 247 

XXIII. RECORDS A VISIT TO DIANA FROM ONE OF 

THE world's good WOMEN .... 258 

XXIV. INDICATES A SOUL PREPARED FOR DESPERATION 269 
XXV. ONCE MORE THE CROSSWAYS AND A CHANGE 

OP TURNINGS 276 

XXVI. IN WHICH A DISAPPOINTED LOVER RECEIVES 

A MULTITUDE OF LESSONS .... 287 



CONTENTS ix 

CHAP. PAGE 

XXVII. CONTAINS MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EX- 
PLOSION 302 

XXVIII. DIALOGUE ROUND THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT, 
WITH SOME INDICATIONS OF THE TASK FOR 
DIANA 319 

XXrX. SHOWS THE APPROACHES OF THE POLITICAL 

AND THE DOMESTIC CRISIS IN COMPANY . 335 

XXX. IN WHICH THERE IS A TASTE OF A LITTLE 

DINNER AND AN AFTERTASTE . . . 351 

XXXI. A CHAPTER CONTAINING GREAT POLITICAL 
NEWS AND THEREWITH AN INTRUSION OF 

THE LOVE-GOD 361 

XXXII. WHEREIN WE BEHOLD A GIDDY TURN AT THE 

SPECTRAL CROSSWAYS 368 

XXXIII. EXHIBITS THE SPRINGING OF A MINE IN A 

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE 375 

XXXIV. IN WHICH IT IS DARKLY SEEN HOW THE 

criminal's JUDGE MAY BE LOVE's CRIMINAL 382 
XXXV. REVEALS HOW THE TRUE HEROINE OP 
ROMANCE COMES FINALLY TO HER TIME OF 

TRIUMPH 391 

XXXVI. IS CONCLUSIVE AS TO THE HEARTLESSNESS 

OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS .... 401 

XXXVII. AN EXHIBITION OF SOME CHAMPIONS OF THE 

STRICKEN LADY 412 



X DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

CHAP. PAGE 

XXXVIII. CONVALESCENCE OF A HEALTHY MIND DIS- 
TRAUGHT 424 

XXXIX. OF NATURE WITH ONE OF HER CULTIVATED 
DAUGHTERS AND A SHORT EXCURSION IN 

ANTI-CLIMAX 432 

XL. IN WHICH WE SEE NATURE MAKING OF A 
WOMAN A MAID AGAIN, AND A THRICE 

WHIMSICAL 445 

XU. CONTAINS A REVELATION OF THE ORIGIN OF 

THE TIGRESS IN DIANA .... 457 

XLII. THE PENULTIMATE : SHOWING A FINAL 
STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY AND RUN INTO 

HARNESS 466 

XLIII. NUPTIAL CHAPTER : AND OF HOW A BARELY 
WILLING WOMAN WAS LED TO BLOOM WITH 
NUPTIAL SENTIMENT 479 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

GEORGE MEREDITH, AGED 72 . . . Frontispiece 

From a dry-point etching by Mortimer Menpes. 

CHOSSWATS FARM-HOUSE . . . Facing page 242 

This is a beautiful instance of a Surrey farm-house 
of the sixteenth or seventeenth century. Prom 
this house the Author took the name of his novel, 
and pictured it as the home of Diana; the actual 
locality, however, which was in his mind waa 
on higher ground some miles further south. 



A lady of high distinction for wit and 
beauty, the daughter of an illustrious 
Irish House, came under the shadow of a 
calumny. It has latterly been examined 
and exposed as baseless. The story of 
Diana of the Crossways is to be read 
as fiction. 



DIANA OF THE CEOSSWATS 



DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

CHAPTER I 

OP DIARIES AND DIARISTS TOUCHING THE HEROINE 

Among the Diaries begianing with the second quarter 
of our century, there is frequent mention of a lady then 
becoming famous for her beauty and her wit: 'an un- 
usual combination,' in the deliberate syllables of one of 
the writers, who is, however, not disposed to personal 
irony when speaking of her. It is otherwise in his case : 
and a general fling at the sex we may deem pardonable, 
for doing as little harm to womankind as the stone of an 
urchin cast upon the bosom of mother Earth; though 
men must look some day to have it returned to them, 
which is a certainty; — and indeed full surely will our 
idle-handed youngster too, in his riper season, be heard 
complaining of a strange assault of wanton missiles, 
coining on him he knows not whence; for we are all of 
us distinctly marked to get back what we give, even from 
the thing named inanimate nature. 

The 'Leaves from the Diary op Henry Wilmers' 
are studded with examples of the dinner-table wit of the 
time, not always worth quotation twice; for smart re- 
marks have their measured distances, many requiring to 
be h brule pourpoint, or within throw of the pistol, to 
make it hit; in other words, the majority of them are 
addressed directly to our muscular system^ and they have 



2 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

no effect when we stand beyond the range. On the con- 
trary, they reflect sombrely on the springs of hilarity in 
the generation preceding us ; — with due reserve of credit, 
of course, to an animal vivaciousness that seems to 
have wanted so small an incitement. Our old yeomanry 
farmers returning to their beds over ferny commons 
under bright moonlight from a neighbour's hairvest-home, 
eased their bubbling breasts with a ready roar not unakin 
to it. Still the promptness to laugh is an excellent pro- 
genitorial foundation for the wit to come in a people ; and 
undoubtedly the diarial record of an imputed piece of wit 
is witness to the spouting of laughter. This should com- 
fort us while we skim the sparkling passages of the 
'Leaves.' When a nation has acknowledged that it is 
as yet but in the fisticuff stage of the art of condensing 
our purest sense to golden sentences, a readier apprecia- 
tion will be extended to the gift : which is to strike not 
the dazzled eyes, the unanticipating nose, the ribs, the 
sides, and stun us, twirl us, hoodwiak, mystify, tickle and 
twitch, by dexterities of lingual sparring and shuffling, but. 
to strike roots in the mind, the Hesperides of good things. 
i_ We shall then set a price on the ' unusual combiaation.' 
[A witty woman is a treasure ; a witty Beauty is a power.. 
Has she actual beauty, actual wit? — not simply a tidal- 
material beauty that passes current any pretty flippancy 
or staggering pretentiousness? Grant the combination, 
she will appear a veritable queen of her period, fit for 
homage; at least meriting a disposition to believe the 
best of her, in the teeth of foul rumour ; because the well 
of true wit is truth itself, the gathering of the precious 
drops of right reason, wisdom's lightning; and no soul 
possessing and dispensing it can justly be a target for the 
world, however well armed the world confronting her. 
Our temporary world, that Old Credulity and stone- 
hurling urchin in one, supposes it possible for a woman 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 3 

to be mentally active up to the point of spiritual clarity 
and also fleshly vUe; a guide to life and a biter at the 
fruits of death; both open mind and hypocrite. It has 
not yet been taught to appreciate a quality certifying to 
sound citizenship as authoritatively as acres of land in 
fee simple, or coffers of bonds, shares and stocks, and a 
more imperishable guaranty The multitudes of evil ' 
reports which it takes for proof, are marshalled against 
her without question of the nature of the victim, her 
temptress beauty being a sufficiently presumptive de- 
linquent. It does not pretend to know the whole, or 
naked body of the facts; it knows enough for its fumy 
dubiousness; and excepting the sentimental of men, a 
rocket-headed horde, ever at the heels of fair faces for 
ignition, and up starring away at a hint of tearfulness ; — 
excepting further by chance a solid champion man, or 
some generous woman capable of faith in the pelted soli- 
tary of her sex, our temporary world blows direct East 
on her shivering person. The scandal is warrant for 
that; the circumstances of the scandal emphasize the 
warrant. And how clever she is ! Cleverness is an attri- 
bute of the selector missionary lieutenants of Satan. We 
pray to be defended from her cleverness : she flashes bits 
of speech that catch men in their unguarded corner. 
The wary stuff their ears, the stolid bid her best sayings 
rebound on her reputation. Nevertheless the world, as 
Christian, remembers its professions, and a portion of 
it joins the burly in morals by extending to her a rough 
old charitable mercifulness; better than sentimental 
ointment, but the heaviest blow she has to bear, to a 
character swimming for life. 

That the lady in question was much quoted, the Diaries 
and Memoirs testify. Hearsay as well as hearing was at 
work to produce the abundance ; and it was a novelty in 
England, where (in company) the men are the pointed 



DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

alkers, and the women conversationally fair Circassians, 
'hey are, or they know that they should be ; it comes to 
lie same. HappUy our civilization has not prescribed 
lie veil to them. The mutes have here and there a 
ketch or label attached to their names : they are ' strik- 
igly handsome'; they are 'very good-looking'; occa- 
ionally they are noted as 'extremely entertaining': in 
'^hat manner, is inquired by a curious posterity, that in. 
3 many matters is left unendingly to jump the empty 
nd gaping figure of interrogation over its own full stop, 
rreat ladies must they be, at tl^ jiveb of politics, for us 
} hear them cited discoursing. | Henry Wilmers^^not • 
ontent to quote the beautiful liTrs. Warwick, ne at-^ 
jmpts a portrait. Mrs. Warwick is 'quite Grecian.' 
he might 'pose for a statue.' He presents her in car- 
enter's lines, with a dab of school-box colours, effective 
) those whom the Keepsake fashion can stir. She has 

straight nose, red lips, raven hair, black eyes, rich com- 
lexion, a remarkably fine bust, and she walks well, and 
as an agreeable voice; likewise 'delicate extremities.' 
he writer was created for popularity, had he chosen to 
ring his art into our literary market. 

Perry Wilkinson is not so elaborate : he describes her in 
is 'Recollections' as a splendid brune, eclipsing all the 
londes coming near her : and ' what is more, the beauti- 
il creature can talk.' He wondered, for she was young, 
ew to society. Subsequently he is rather ashamed of 
is wonderment, and accounts for it by 'not having 
nown she was Irish.' She 'turns out to be Dan Merion's 
aughter.' 

We may assume that_he would have heard if she had 
ny whiff of a brogue. [Her sounding of the letter R a 
rifle scrupulously is noticed by Lady Pennon : ' And last, '• 
ot least, the lovely Mrs. Warwick, twenty minutes be- 
ind the dinner-hour, ~aad- r"-r-rea% fearing she was late.' 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 5 

After alluding to the soft influence of her beauty and 
ingenuousness on the vexed hostess, the kindly old 
marchioness adds, that it was no wonder she was late, 
'for just before starting from home she had broken loose 
from her husband for good, and she entered the room 
absolutely houseless !' She was not the less ' astonish- 
ingly brilliant.' Her observations were often 'so unex- 
pectedly droll I laughed till I cried.' Lady Pennon 
became in consequence one of the stanch supporters of 
Mrs. Warwick^ ' 

Others were not so easily won. Perry Wilkinson holds 
a balance when it goes beyond a question of her wit and 
beauty. Henry Wilmers puts the case aside, and takes 
her as he finds her. His cousin, the clever and cjmical 
Dorset Wilmers, whose method of conveying his opinions 
without stating them was famous, repeats on two occasions 
when her name appears in his pages, 'handsome, lively, 
witty' ; and the stressed repetition of calculated brevity 
while a fiery scandal was abroad concerning the lady, 
implies weighty substance — the reservation of a con- 
stable's truncheon, that could legally have knocked her 
character down to the pavement. We have not to ask 
what he judged. But Dorset Wilmers was a political 
opponent of the eminent Peer who yields the second name 
to the scandal, and politics in his day fiushed the con- 
ceptions of men. His short references to ' that Warwick- 
Dannisburgh affair' are not verbally malicious. He gets 
wind of the terms of Lord Dannisburgh's wUl and testa- 
ment, noting them without comment. The oddness of the 
instrument in one respect may have served his turn ; we 
have no grounds for thinking him malignant. .The death 
of his enemy closes his allusions to Mrs. Warwick. He 
was growing ancient, and gout narrowed the circle he 
whirled in. Had he known this 'handsome, lively, witty' 
apparition as a woman having political and social views of 



6 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

her own, he would not, one fancies, have been so stingless. 
Our England exposes a sorry figure in his Reminiscences. 
He struck heavily, round and about him, wherever he 
moved ; he had by nature a tarnishing eye that cast dis- 
colouration. His unadorned harsh substantive state- 
ments, excluding the adjectives, give his Memoirs the 
appearance of a body of facts, attractive to the historic 
Muse, which has learnt to esteem those brawny sturdy 
giants marching club on shoulder, independent of hench- 
man, in preference to your panoplied knights with their 
puffy squires, once her favourites, and wind-filling to her 
columns, ultimately found indigestible. 

His exhibition of his enemy Lord Dannisburgh, is of the 
class of noble portraits we see swinging over inn-portals, 
grossly unlike in likeness. The possibility of the man's 
doing or saying this and that adumbrates the improba- 
bility : he had something of the character capable of it, 
too much good sense for the performance. We would 
think so, and still the shadow is round our thoughts. 
Lord Dannisburgh was a man of ministerial tact, official 
ability. Pagan morality; an excellent general manager, 
if no genius in statecraft. But he was careless of social 
opinion, unbuttoned, and a laugher. We know that he 
could be chivalrous toward women, notwithstanding the 
perplexities he brought on them, and this the Dorset- 
Diary does not show. 

His chronicle is less mischievous as regards Mrs. 
Warwick than the paragraphs of Perry Wilkinson, a 
gossip presenting an image of perpetual chatter, like the 
waxen-faced street advertizements of light and easy 
dentistry. He has no belief, no disbelief; names the 
pro-party and the con; recites the case, and discreetly, 
over-discreetly ; and pictures the trial, tells the list of 
witnesses, records the verdict : so the case went, and 
some thought one thing, some another thing: only it is 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 7 

reported for positive that a miniature of the incriminated 
lady was cleverly smuggled over to the jury, and juries 
sitting upon these cases, ever since their bedazzlement 
by Phryne, as you know. . . . And then he relates an 
anecdote of the husband, said to have been not a bad 
fellow before he married his Diana; — and the naming 
of the Goddess reminds him that the second person in 
the indictment is now everywhere called 'The elderly 
shepherd'; — but immediately after the bridal bells this 
husband became sour and insupportable; and either 
she had the trick of putting him publicly in the wrong, or 
he lost all shame in playing the churlish domestic tyrant. 
The instances are incredible of a gentleman. Perry Wil- 
kinson gives us two or three ; one on the authority of a 
personal friend who witnessed the scene ; at the Warwick 
whist-table, where the fair Diana would let loose her sil- 
very laugh in the intervals. She was hardly out of her 
teens, and should have been dancing instead of fastened 
to a table. A difference of fifteen years in the ages of the 
wedded pair accounts poorly for the husband's conduct, 
however solemn a business the game of whist. We read 
that he burst out at last, with bitter mimicry, 'yang — 
yang — yang !' and killed the bright laugh, shot it dead. 
She had outraged the decorum of the square-table only 
while the cards were making. Perhaps her too-dead 
ensuing silence, as of one striving to bring back the 
throbs to a slain bird in her bosom, allowed the gap 
between the wedded pair to be visible, for it was dated 
back to prophecy as soon as the trumpet proclaimed it. 

But a multiplication of similar instances, which can 
serve no other purpose than that of an apology, is a miser- 
able vindication of innocence. The more we have of 
them the darker the inference. In delicate situations the 
chatterer is noxious. Mrs. Warwick had niunerous apolo- 
gists. Those trusting to her perfect rectitude were rarer. 



8 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

The liberty she allowed herself in speech and action must 
have been trying to her defenders in a land like ours ; for 
here, and able to throw its shadow on our giddy upper- 
circle, the rigour of the game of life, relaxed though it 
may sometimes appear, would satisfy the staidest whist- 
player. She did not wish it the reverse, even when claim- 
ing a space for laughter: 'the breath of her soul,' as she 
called it, and as it may be felt in the early youth of a 
lively nature. She, especially, with her multitude of 
quick perceptions and imaginative avenues, her rapid 
summaries, her sense of the comic, demanded this aerial 
freedom. 

\We have it from Perry Wilkinson that the union of the 
divergent couple was likened to another union always in 
a Court of Law. There was a distinction ; most analogies 
will furnish one; and here we see England and Ireland 
changeing their parts, imtil later, after the breach, when 
the Englishman and Irishwoman resumed a certain 
resemblance to the yoked Islands. 

\_Henry Wilmers, I have said, deals exclusively with 
the wit and charm of the woman. He treats the scandal 
as we might do in like manner if her story had not to be 
told. But these are not reporting coliunns; very little 
of it shall trouble themj The position is faced, and that 
is all. The position is one of the battles incident to 
women, their hardest. It asks for more than justice from 
men, for generosity, our civilization not being yet of the 
purest. That cry of hounds at her disrobing by Law is 
instinctive. She runs, and they give tongue; she is a 
creature of the chase. Let her escape umnangled, it will 
pass in the record that she did once publicly run, and 
some old dogs will persist in thinking her cunninger than 
the virtuous, which never put themselves in such positions, 
but ply the distaff at home. Never should reputation of 
woman trail a scent ! How true ! and true also that the 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 9 

women of waxwork never do; and that the women of 
happy marriages do not; nor the women of holy nun- 
neries; nor the women lucky in their arts. It is a test 
of the civilized to see and hear, and add no yapping to 
the spectacle. 

Thousands have reflected on a Diarist's power to cancel 
our Burial Service. Not alone the cleric's good work is 
upset by him, but the sexton's as well. He howks the 
graves, and transforms the quiet worms, busy on a single 
poor peaceable body, into winged serpents that disorder ■ 
sky and earth with a deadly flight of zig-zags, like mili- 
tary rockets, among the living. And if these are given to 
cry too much, to have their tender sentiments considered, 
it cannot be said that History requires the flaying of them. 
A gouty Diarist, a sheer gossip Diarist, may thus, in the 
bequest of a trail of reminiscences, explode our temples (for 
our very temples have powder in store), our treasuries, 
our homesteads, alive with dynamitic stuff; nay, dis- 
concert our inherited veneration, dislocate the intimate 
connexion between the tugged flaxen forelock and a title. 

No similar blame is incurred by Henry Wilmers. No 
blame whatever, one would say, if he had been less 
copious, or' not so subservient, in recording the lady's 
utterances ; for though the wit of a woman may be terse, 
quite spontaneous, as this lady's assuredly was here and, 
there, she is apt to spin it out of a musefid mind, at her^ 
toilette, or by the lonely fire^and sometimes it is imitative ; 
admirers should bew^KT'ofholding it up to the withering 
glare of print :^Ee herself, quoting an obscure maxim- 
monger, says orthese lapidary sentences, that they have 
merely 'the value of chalk-eggs, which lure the thinker to sit,' 
and tempt the vacuous to strain for the like, one might 
add ; besides flattering the world to imagine itself richer 
than it is in eggs that are golden. Henry Wilmers notes 
a multitude of them. 'The talk fell upon our being 



10 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

creatures of habit, and how far it was good : She said : — 
It is there that we see ourselves crutched between love 
grown old and indifference ageing to love.' Critic ears 
not present at the conversation catch an echo of maxims 
and aphorisms overchannel, notwithstanding a feminine 
thrill in the irony of 'ageing to love.' The quotation 
ranks rather among the testimonies to her charm. 
CShe is fresher when speaking of the war of the sexes. 
For one sentence out of many, though we find it to be but 
the clever literary clothing of a common accusation: — 
' Men may have rounded Seraglio Point : they have not yet 
dmbled Cape Turk.' 

\Jt is war, and on the male side, Ottoman war: her 
experience reduced her to think so positively. Her main 
personal experience was in the social class which is primi- 
tively venatorial still, canine under its polish. 
fShe held a brief for her beloved Ireland. She closes a 
discussion upon Irish agitation by saying rather neatly : 
' You have taught them it is English as well as common 
human nature to feel an interest in the dog that has bitten 
you.' 

JThe dog periodically puts on madness to win attention ; 
we gather then that England, in an angry tremour, tries 
him with water-gruel to prove him saneTT 

Of the Irish priest (and she was notof his retinue), 
when he was deemed a revolutionary, Henry Wilmers 
notes her saying: 'Be in tune with him; he is in the 
key-note for harmony. He is shepherd, doctor, nurse, 
comforter, anecdotist and fun-maker to his poor flock; 
and you wonder they see the burning gateway of their 
heaven in him? Conciliate the priest.' 

It has been partly done, done late, when the poor flock 
have found their doctoring and shepherding at other 
hands : their ' bxilb-food and fiddle,' that she petitioned 
for, to keep them from a complete shaving off their 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 11 

patch of bog and scrub soil, without any perception of 
the tremulous transatlantic magnification of the fiddle, 
and the splitting discord of its latest inspiriting jig. 

And she will not have the consequences of the ' weariful 
old Irish duel between Honour and Himger judged by 
bread and butter juries.' 

She had need to be beautiful to be tolerable in days 
when Englishmen stood more openly for the strong arm 
to maintain the Union. Her troop of enemies was of her 
summoning. 

Ordinarily her topics were of wider range, and those of 
a woman who mixed hearing with reading, and obser- 
vation with her musings. She has no doleful ejaculatory 
notes, of the kind peculiar to women at war, containing 
one-third of speculative substance to two of sentimental 
— a feminine plea for comprehension and a squire ; and it 
was probably the reason (as there is no reason to suppose 
an emotional cause) why she exercised her evident sway 
over the mind of so plain and straightforward an English- 
man as Henry Wilmers. She told him that she read 
rapidly, 'a great deal at one gulp,' and thought in flashes 
— a way with the makers of phrases. She wrote, she con- 
fessed, laboriously. The desire to prune, compress, over- 
charge, was a torment to the nervous woman writing 
under a sharp necessity for payment. Her songs were 
shot off on the impulsion; prose was the heavy task. 
'To be pointedly rational,' she said, 'is a greater diffi- 
culty for me than a fine delirium.' She did not talk as 
if it would have been so, he remarks. One is not aston- 
ished at her appearing an 'actress' to the flat-minded. 
But the basis of her woman's nature was pointed flame. 
In the fulness of her history we perceive nothing his- 
trionic. Capricious or enthusiastic in her youth, she 
never trifled with feeling; and if she did so with some 
showy phrases and occasionally proffered commonplaces 



12 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

in gilt, as she was much excited to do, her moods of re- 
flection were direct, always large and honest, universal as 
well as feminine. 

; ; Her saying that 'A woman in the pillory restores the 
original bark of brotherhood to mankind,' is no more 
than a cry of personal anguish. She has golden apples 
in her apron. She says of life : ' When I fail to cherish it 
in every fibre the fires within are waning,' and that drives 
like rain to the roots. She says of the world, generously, 
if with tapering idea : ' From the point of vision of the 
angels, this ugly monster, only half out of slime, must 
appear our one constant hero.' 

^ fit can be read maliciously, but abstain. 

( J^e says of Romance : ' The young who avoid that 
region escape the tide of Fool at the cost of a celestial crown.' 
Of Poetry : ' Those that have souls meet their fellows there.' 
But she would have us away with sentimentalism. 
Sentimental people, in her phrase, 'fiddle harmonics on 
the strings of sensualism,' to the delight of a world gaping 
for marvels of musical execution rather than for music. 
For our world is all but a sensational world at present, in 
maternal travail of a soberer, a braver, a brighter-eyed. 
Her reflections are thus to be interpreted, it seems to me. 
She says, 'The vices of the world's nobler half in this day 
are feminine.' We have to guard against 'half-con- 
ceptions of wisdom, hysterical goodness, an impatient 
charity' — against the elementary state of the altruistic 
virtues, distinguishable as the sickness and writhings of 
our egoism to cast its first slough. Idea is there. The 
funny part of it is our finding it in books of fiction com- 
posed for pajTnent. Manifestly this lady did not ' chame- 
leon' her pen from the colour of her audience : she was 
not of the uniformed rank and file marching to drum and 
fife as gallant interpreters of popular appetite, and going 
or gone to soundlessness and the icy shades. 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 13 

LTouches inward are not absent: 'To have the sense 
of the eternal in life is a short^flight for the soul. To have 
had it, is the soul's vitality.' / 

And also : 'Palliation of a sin is the hunted creature's 
refuge and final temptation. Our battle is ever between 
spirit and flesh. Spirit must brand the flesh, that it may 
live.' 

(You are entreated to repress alarm. She was by i^ 
preference light-handed ; and her saying of oratory, that 
' It is always the more impressive for the spice of temper 
vMch renders it untrustworthy,' is light enough. 

Y^On Politics she is rhetorical and swings : she wrote to 
spur a junior politician: 'It is the first business of men, 
the school to mediocrity, to the covetously ambitious a 
sty, to the dullard his amphitheatre, arms of Titans to 
the desperately enterprising, Olympus to the genius.' 

What a woman thiuks of women, is the test of her 
nature. She saw their existing posture clearly, yet 
believed, as men disincline to do, that they grow. She 
says, that 'In their judgements upon women men are 
females, voices of the present (sexual) dilemma.' They 
desire to have 'a still woman, who can make a constant 
society of her pins and needles.' They create by stoppage 
a volcano, and are amazed at its eruptiveness. 'We live 
alone, and do not much feel it till we are visited.' Love 
is presiunably the visitor. Of the greater loneliness of 
women, she says: 'It is due to the prescribed circum- 
scription of their minds, of which they become aware in 
agitation. Were the walls about them beaten down, they 
would understand that solitariness is a common human 
fate and the one chance of growth, like space for timber.' 
As to the sensations of women after the beating down 
of the walls, she owns that the multitude of the timorous 
would yearn in shivering affright for the old prison-nest, 
according to the sage prognostic of men; but the flying 



14 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

of a valiant few would form a vanguard. And we are 
informed that the beginning of a motive life with women 
must be in the head, equally with men (by no means a 
truism when she wrote). Also that 'men do not so much 
fear to lose the hearts of thoughtful women as their strict 
attention to their graces.' The present market is what 
men are for preserving: an observation of still rever- 
berating force. Generally in her character of the femi- 
aine combatant there is a turn of phrase, like a dimple 
near the lips, showing her knowledge that she was utter- 
ing but a tart measure of the truth. She had always; 
too much lambent humour to be the dupe of the passion 
wherewith, as she says, 'we lash ourselves into the 
persuasive speech distinguishing us from the animals.' 

LThe instances of her drollery are rather hinted by the 
Diarists for the benefit of those who hadjnet her and 
30uld inhale the atmosphere at a word/) Drolleries,, 
humours, reputed witticisms, are like odours of roast 
meats, past with the picking of the joint. Idea is the 
jnly vital breath. They have it rarely, or it eludes the 
jhronicler. To say of the great erratic and forsaken 
Lady A****, after she had accepted the consolations of 
Bacchus, that her name was properly signified in asterisks ; 

as she was now nightly an Ariadne in heaven through 
der God,' sounds to us a roundabout, with wit somewhere 
md fim nowhere. Sitting at the roast we might have 
thought differently. Perry Wilkinson is not happier in 
siting her reply to his compliment on the reviewers' un- 
animous eulogy of her humour and pathos : — the ' merry 
jlown and poor pantaloon demanded of us in every work 
of fiction,' she says, lamenting the writer's compulsion 
to go on producing them for applause until it is extremest 
age that knocks their knees. We are informed by Lady 
Pennon of 'the most amusing description of the first 
impressions of a pretty English simpleton in Paris'; 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 15 

and here is an opportunity for ludicrous contrast of the 
French and English styles of pushing flatteries — 'piping 
to the charmed animal,' as Mrs. Warwick terms it in 
another place: but Lady Pennon was acquainted with 
the silly woman of the piece, and found her amusement 
in the 'wonderful truth' of that representation, 
^iarists of amusing passages are under an obligation 
to paint us a realistic revival of the time, or we miss the 
relish. The odour of the roast, and more, a slice of it is 
required, unless the humorous thing be preternaturally 
spirited to walk the earth as one immortal among a 
number less numerous than the mythic Gods. 'He 
gives good dinners,' a candid old critic said, when asked 
how it was that he could praise a certain poet. In an 
island of chills and fogs, ccelum crebris imbribus ac 
nebulis foedum, the comic and other perceptions are 
dependent on the stirring of the gastric juices. And 
such a revival byany of us would be impolitic, were it a 
possible attempt2)jbefore our systems shall have been ' 
fortified by phUoSophy. Then may it be allowed to the- 
Diarist simply to relate, and we can copy from him. 

Then, ah ! then, moreover, will the novelist's Art, now 
neither blushless infant nor executive man, have attained 
its majority. We can then be veraciously historical, 
honestly transcriptive. Rose-pink and dirty drab will 
alike have passed away. Philosophy is the foe of both, 
and their silly cancelling contest, perpetually renewed in 
a shuffle of extremes, as it always is where a phantasm 
falseness reigns, wiU no longer baffle the contemplation of 
natural flesh, smother no longer the soul issuing out of our 
incessant strife. Philosophy bids us to see that we are 
not so pretty as rose-pink, not so repulsive as dirty drab ; 
and that instead of everlastingly shifting those barren 
aspects, the sight of ourselves is wholesome, bearable, 
fructifying, finally a delight. Do but perceive that we 



16 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

are coming to philosophy, the stride toward it will be a 
giant's — a century a day. And imagine the celestial re- 
freshment of having a pure decency in the place of sham ; 
real flesh; a soul born active, wind-beaten, but ascend- 
ing. Honourable will fiction then appear; honourable, 
a fount of life, an aid to life, quick with our blood. Why, 
when you behold it you love it — and you will not en- 
courage it? — or only when presented by dead hands? 
Worse than that alternative dirty drab, your recurring 
rose-pink is rebuked by hideous revelations of the filthy 
foul; for nature will force her way, and if you try to 
stifle her by drowning, she comes up, not the fairest part 
of her uppermost! Peruse your Realists — really your 
castigators for not having yet embraced Philosophy. As 
she grows in the flesh when discreetly tended, nature is 
unimpeachable, flower-like, yet not too decoratively a 
flower ; you must have her with the stem, the thorns, the 
roots, and the fat bedding of roses. In this fashion she 
grew, says historical fiction; thus does she flourish now, 
would say the modern transcript, reading the inner as 
well as exhibiting the outer. 

And how may you know that you have reached to 
Philosophy? You touch her skirts when you share her 
hatred of the sham decent, her derision of sentimental- 
ism. You are one with her when — but I would not have 
you a thousand years older ! Get to her, if in no other 
way, by the sentimental route: — that very winding 
path, which again and again brings you round to the 
point of original impetus, where you have to be unwound 
for another whirl; your point of original impetus being 
the grossly material, not at all the spiritual. It is most 
true that sentimentalism springs from the former, merely 
and badly aping the latter; — fine flower, or pinnacle 
flame-spire, of sensualism that it is, could it do other? — 
and accompanying the former it traverses tracts of desert 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 17 

here and there couching in a garden, catching with one 
hand at fruits, with another at colours; imagining a 
secret ahead, and goaded by an appetite, sustained by 
sheer gratifications. Fiddle in harmonics as it may, it 
will have these gratifications at all costs. Should none 
be discoverable, at once you are at the Cave of Despair, 
beneath the funereal orb of Glaucoma, in the thick midst 
of poniarded, slit-throat, rope-dependant figures, pla- 
carded across the bosom Disillusioned, Infidel, Agnostic, 
Miserrimus. That is the sentimental route to advance- 
ment. SpirituaUty does not light it ; evanescent dreams 
are its oil-lamps, often with wick askant in the socket. 

A thousand years ! You may count full many a thou- 
sand by this route before you are one with divine Philos- 
ophy. Whereas a single flight of brains will reach and 
embrace her ; give you the savour of Truth, the right use 
of the senses. Reality's infinite sweetness ; for these things 
are in philosophy ; and the fiction which is the summary 
of actual Life, the within and without of us, is, prose or 
verse, plodding or soaring, philosophy's elect hand- 
maiden. To such an end let us bend our aim to work, 
knowing that every form of labour, even this flimsiest, 
as you esteem it, should minister to growth. If in any 
branch of us we fail in growth, there is, you are aware, 
an unfailing aboriginal democratic old monster that waits 
to pull us down ; certainly the branch, possibly the tree ; 
and for the welfare of Life we fall. You are acutely 
conscious of yonder old monster when he is mouthing 
at you in politics. Be wary of him in the heart; espe- 
cially be wary of the disrelish of brainstuff. You must 
feed on something. Matter that is not nourishing to 
brains can help to constitute nothing but the bodies 
which are pitched on rubbish heaps. Brainstuff is not 
lean stuff; the brainstuff of fiction is internal history, 
and to suppose it dull is the profoundest of errors ; how 



18 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

deep, you will understand when I tell you that it is the 
very football of the holiday-afternoon imps below. They 
kick it for pastime; they are intelligences perverted. 
The comic of it, the adventurous, the tragic, they make 
devilish, to kindle their Ogygian hilarity. But sharply 
comic, adventurous, instructively tragic, it is in the inter- 
winding with human affairs, to give a flavour of the 
modem day reviving that of our Poet, between whom 
and us yawn Time's most hollow jaws. Surely we owe 
a little to Time, to cheer his progress ; a little to posterity, 
and to our country. Dozens of writers will be in at 
yonder yawning breach, if only perusers will rally to 
the philosophic standard. They are sick of the woodeny 
puppetry they dispense, as on a race-course to the roaring 
frivolous. Well, if not dozens, half-dozens; gallant 
pens are alive; one can speak of them in the plural.' 
I venture to say that they would be satisfied with a dozen 
for audience, for a commencement. They would perish 
of inanition, unfed, unapplauded, amenable to the laws 
perchance for an assault on their last remaining pair of 
ears or heels, to hold them fast. But the example is the 
thing ; sacrifices must be expected. The example might, 
one hopes, create a taste. A great modern writer, of 
clearest eye and head, now departed, capable in activity 
of presenting thoughtful women, thinking men, groaned 
over his puppetry, that he dared not animate them, flesh 
though they were, with the fires of positive brainstuff. 
He could have done it, and he is of the departed I Had 
he dared, he would (for he was Titan enough) have raised 
the Art in dignity on a level with History, to an interest 
surpassing the narrative of public deeds as vividly as 
man's heart and brain in their union excel his plain lines 
of action to eruption. The everlasting pantomime, sug- 
gested by Mrs. Warwick in her exclamation to Perry 
Wilkinson, is derided, not unrighteously, by our graver 



OF DIARIES AND DIARISTS 19 

seniors. They name this Art the pasture of idiots, a 
method for idiotizing the entire population which has 
taken to reading; and which soon discovers that it can 
write likewise, that sort of stuff at least. The forecast 
may be hazarded, that if we do not speedily embrace 
Philosophy in fiction, the Art is doomed to extinction, 
under the shining multitude of its professors. They are 
fast capping the candle. Instead, therefore, of objur- 
gating the timid intrusions of Philosophy, invoke her 
presence, I pray you. History without her is the skeleton 
map of events : Fiction a picture of figures modelled on 
no skeleton-anatomy. But each, with Philosophy ia 
aid, blooms, and is humanly shapely. To demand of 
us truth to nature, excluding Philosophy, is really to 
bid a pumpkin caper. As much as legs are wanted for 
the dance. Philosophy is required to make our human 
nature credible and acceptable. Fiction implores you 
to heave a bigger breast and take her in with this heavenly 
preservative helpmate, her inspiration and her essence. 
You have to teach your imagination of the feminine 
image you have set up to bend your civilized knees to, 
that it must temper its fastidiousness, shun the grossness 
of the overdainty. Or, to speak in the philosophic tongue, 
you must turn on yourself, resolutely track and seize that 
burrower, and scrub and cleanse him ; by which process, 
during the course of it, you will arrive at the conception 
of the right heroicaJ woman for you to worship : and if 
you prove to be of some spiritual stature, you may reach 
to an ideal of the heroical feminine type for the worship of 
mankind, an image as yet in poetic outline only, on our 
upper skies. 

'So well do we know ourselves, that we one and all 
determine to know a purer,' says the heroine of my 
columns. Philosophy in fiction tells, among various 
other matters, of the perils of this intimate acquaintance 



20 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

with a flattering familiar in the 'purer' — a person who 
more than ceases to be of use lo us after his ideal shall 
have led up men from their flint and arrowhead caverns 
to inter-communicative daylight. For when the fictitious 
creature has performed that service of helping to civilize 
the world, it becomes the most dangerous of delusions, 
causing first the individual to despise the mass, and 
then to join the mass in crushing the individual. Where- 
with let us to our story, the froth being out of the bottle. 



CHAPTER II 

AN IRISH BALL 

In the Assembly Rooms of the capital city of the Sister 
Island there was a public Ball, to celebrate the return to 
Erin of a British hero of Irish blood, after his victorious 
Indian campaign; a mighty struggle splendidly ended; 
and truly could it be said that all Erin danced to meet 
him; but this was the pick of the dancing, past dispute 
the pick of the supping. Outside those halls the supping 
was done in Lazarus fashion, mainly through an ex- 
cessive straining of the organs of hearing and vision, 
which imparted the readiness for more, declared by 
physicians to be the state inducing to sound digestion. 
Some one spied the figure of the hero at the window and 
was fed; some only to hear the tale chewed the cud of 
it ; some told of having seen him mount the steps ; and 
sure it was that at an hour of the night, no matter when, 
and never mind a drop or two of cloud, he would come 
down them again, and have an Irish cheer to freshen 
his pillow. For 'tis Ireland gives England her soldiers, 
her generals too. Farther away, over field and bogland. 



AN IRISH BALL 21 

the whiskies did their excellent ancient service of water- 
ing the dry and drying the damp, to the toast of 'Lord 
Larrian, God bless him ! he 's an honour to the old 
country !' and a bit of a sigh to follow, hints of a story, 
and loud laughter, a drink, a deeper sigh, settling into 
conversation upon the brave Lord Larrian's deeds, and 
an Irish regiment he favoured — ^had no taste for the 
enemy without the backing of his 'boys.' Not he. 
Why, he 'd never march to battle and they not handy ; 
because when he struck he struck hard, he said. And 
he has a wound on the right hip and two fingers off his 
left hand; has bled for England, to show her what 
Irishmen are when they 're weU treated. 

The fine old warrior standing at the upper end of the 
long saloon, tall, straight, grey-haired, martial in his 
aspect and decorations, was worthy to be the flag-pole 
for enthusiasm. His large grey eyes lightened from 
time to time as he ranged them over the floating couples, 
and dropped a word of inquiry to his aide. Captain Sir 
Lukin Dunstane, a good model of a cavalry ofiBcer, 
though somewhat a giant, equally happy with his chief 
in passing the troops of animated ladies under review. 
He named as many as were known to him. Reviewing 
women exquisitely attired for inspection, all variously 
and charmingly smiling, is a relief after the monotonous 
regiments of men. Ireland had done her best to present 
the hero of her blood an agreeable change; and he too 
expressed a patriotic satisfaction on hearing that the 
faces most admired by him were of the native isle. He 
looked upon one that came whirling up to him on a 
young officer's arm and swept off into the crowd of tops, 
for a considerable while before he put his customary 
question. She was returning on the spin when he 
said, 

'Who is she?' 



22 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Sir Lukin did not know. 'She's a new bird; she 
nodded to my wife ; I '11 ask.' 

He manoeuvred a few steps cleverly to where his wife 
reposed. The information he gathered for the behoof 
of his chief was, that the handsome creature answered 
to the name of Miss Merion ; Irish ; aged somewhere 
between eighteen and nineteen; a dear friend of his 
wife's, and he ought to have remembered her; but she 
was a child when he saw her last. 

'Dan Merion died, I remember, about the day of my 
sailing for India,' said the General. 'She may be his 
daughter.' 

The bright cynosure rounded up to him in the web 
of the waltz, with her dark eyes for Lady Dunstane, and 
vanished again among the twisting columns. 

He made his way, handsomely bumped by an apologetic 
pair, to Lady Dunstane, beside whom a seat was vacated 
for him ; and he trusted she had not over-fatigued herself. 

' Confess,' she replied, ' you are perishing to know more 
than Lukin has been able to tell you. Let me hear that 
you admire her : it pleases me ; and you shall hear what 
will please you as much, I promise you, General.' 

' I do. Who wouldn't ? ' said he frankly. 

'She crossed the Channel expressly to dance here to- 
night at the public Ball in honour of you.' 

'Where she appears, the first person falls to second 
rank, and accepts it humbly.' 

'That is grandly spoken.' 

'She makes everything in the room dust round a 
blazing jewel.' 

'She makes a poet of a soldier. Well, that you may 
understand how pleased I am, she is my dearest friend, 
though she is younger than I, as may be seen ; she is the 
only friend I have. I nursed her when she was an infant ; 
my father and Mr. Dan Merion were chums. We were 



AN IRISH BALL 23 

parted by my marriage and the voyage to India. We have 
not yet exchanged a syllable: she was snapped up, of 
course, the moment she entered the room. I knew she 
would be a taking giri : how lovely, I did not guess. You 
are right, she extinguishes the others. She used to be 
the sprightliest of living creatures, and to judge by her 
letters, that has not faded. She 's in the market. General.' 

Lord Larrian nodded to everjrthing he heard, conclud- 
ing with a mock doleful shake of the head. ' My poorest 
subaltern!' he sighed, in the theatrical but cordially 
melancholy style of green age viewing Cytherea's market. 

His poorest subaltern was richer than he in the where- 
withal to bid for such prizes. 

'What is her name in addition to Merion?' 

'Diana Antonia Merion. Tony to me, Diana to the 
world.' 

'She lives over there?' 

'In England, or anywhere; wherever she is taken in. 
She will live, I hope, chiefly with me.' 

'And honest Irish?' 

'Oh, she's Irish.' 

'Ah !' the General was Irish to the heels that night. 

Before further could be said the fair object of the 
dialogue came darting on a trip of little runs, both hands 
out, aU her face one tender sparkle of a smile ; and her 
cry proved the quality of her blood: 'Emmy! Emmy! 
my heart!' 

'My dear Tony! I should not have come but for the 
hope of seeing you here.' 

Lord Larrian rose and received a hurried acknowledge- 
ment of his courtesy from the usurper of his place. 

'Emmy ! we might kiss and hug; we 're in Ireland. I 
bum to! But you're not still ill, dear? Say no! 
That Indian fever must have gone. You do look a dash 
pale, my own ; you 're tired.' 



24 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'One dance has tired me. Why were you so late?' 

'To give the others a chance? To produce a greater 
impression by suspense? No and no. I wrote you I 
was with the Pettigrews. We caught the coach, we 
caught the boat, we were only two hours late for the 
Ball; so we did wonders. And good Mrs. Pettigrew 
is pining somewhere to complete her adornment. I was 
in the crush, spying for Emmy, when Mr. Mayor in- 
formed me it was the duty of every Irishwoman to dance 
her toes off, if she 'd be known for what she is. And 
twirl ! a man had me by the waist, and I dying to find you.' 

'Who was the man?' 

'Not to save these limbs from the lighted stake could 
I tell you!' 

'You are to perform a ceremonious bow to Lord 
Larrian.' 

'Chatter first! a little!' 

The plea for chatter was disregarded. It was visible 
that the hero of the night hung listening and in expec- 
tation. He and the Beauty were named to one another, 
and they chatted through a quadrille. Sir Lukin intro- 
duced a fellow-Harrovian of old days, Mr. Thomas Red- 
worth, to his wife. 

'Our weather-prophet, meteorologist,' he remarked, to 
set them going; 'you remember, in India, my pointing 
to you his name in a newspaper-letter on the subject. 
He was generally safe for the cricketing days.' 

Lady Dunstane kindly appeared to call it to mind, 
and she led upon the theme — queried at times by an 
abrupt 'Eh?' and 'I beg pardon,' for manifestly his gaze 
and one of his ears, if not the pair, were given to the yoimg 
lady discoursing with Lord Larrian. Beauty is rare; 
luckily is it rare, or, judging from its effect on men, and 
the very stoutest of them, our world would be internally 
a more distracted planet than we see, to the perversion 



AN IRISH BALL 25 

of business, courtesy, rights of property, and the rest. 
She perceived an incipient victim, of the hundreds she 
anticipated, and she very tolerantly talked on: 'The 
weather and women have some resemblance they say. 
Is it true that he who reads the one can read the other?' 

Lord Larrian here burst into a brave old laugh, ex- 
claiming, ' Oh ! good!' 

Mr. Redworth knitted his thick brows. 'I beg 
pardon? Ah! women! Weather and women? No; 
the one point more variable in women makes all the 
difference.' 

'Can you tell me what the General laughed at?' 

The honest Englishman entered the trap with prompti- 
tilde. 'She said : — who is she, may I ask you?' 

Lady Dunstane mentioned her name. 

Daughter of the famous Dan Merion? The young lady 
merited examination for her father's sake. But when 
reminded of her laughter-moving speech, Mr. Redworth 
bungled it ; he owned he spoilt it, and candidly stated his 
inability to see the fun. 'She said, St. George's Channel 
in a gale ought to be called St. Patrick's — something — I 
missed some point. That quadrille-tune, the Pastourelle, 
or something . . .' 

'She had experience of the Channel last night,' Lady 
Dunstane pursued, and they both, while in seeming con- 
verse, caught snatches from their neighbours, during a 
pause of the dance. 

The sparkling Diana said to Lord Larrian, 'You 
really decline to make any of us proud women by dancing 
to-night?' 

The General answered : 'I might do it on two stilts ; I 
can't on one.' He touched his veteran leg. 

' But surely,' said she, ' there 's always an inspiration 
coming to it from its partner in motion, if one of them 
takes the step.' 



26 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

He signified a woeful negative. 'My dear young lady, 
you say dark things to grey hairs !' 

She rejoined: 'If we were over in England, and you 
fixed on me the stigma of saying dark things, I should 
never speak without being thought obscure.' 

'It 's because you flash too brightly for them.' 

'I think it is rather the reminiscence of the tooth that 
once received a stone when it expected candy.' 

Again the General laughed; he looked pleased and 
warmed. 'Yes, that's their way, that's their way!' 
and he repeated her words to himself, diminishing their 
inportance as he stamped them on his memory, but so 
heartily admiring the lovely speaker, that he considered 
her wit an honour to the old country, and told her so. 
Irish prevailed up to boiling-point. 

Lady Dunstane, not less gratified, glanced up at Mr. 
Redworth, whose brows bore the knot of perplexity over 
a strong stare. He, too, stamped the words on his 
memory, to see subsequently whether they had a vestige 
of meaning. Terrifically precocious, he thought her. 
Lady Dunstane, in her quick sympathy with her friend, 
read the adverse mind in his face. And her reading of 
the mind was right, wrong altogether her deduction of the 
corresponding sentiment. 

Music was resumed to confuse the hearing of the eaves- 
droppers. 

They beheld a quaint spectacle: a gentleman, obvi- 
ously an Englishman, approached, with the evident 
intention of reminding the Beauty pf the night of her 
engagement to him, and claiming her, as it were, in the 
lion's jaws. He advanced a foot, withdrew it, advanced, 
withdrew; eager for his prize, not over-enterprising; 
in awe of the illustrious General she entertained — pre- 
sumeably quite unaware of the pretender's presence; 
whereupon a voice was heard : 'Oh ! if it was minuetting 



AN IRISH BALL 27 

you meant before the lady, I 'd never have disputed your 
right to perform, sir.' For it seemed that there were two 
claimants in the field, an Irishman and an Englishman; 
and the former, having a livelier sense of the situation, 
hung aloof in waiting for her eye; the latter directed 
himself to strike bluntly at his prey; and he continued 
minuetting, now rapidly blinking, flushed, angry, 
conscious of awkwardness and a tangle, incapable of 
extrication. He began to blink horribly under the 
raillery of his rival. The General observed him, but 
as an object remote and minute, a fly or gnat. The face 
of the brilliant Diana was entirely devoted to him she 
amused. 

Lady Dunstane had the faint lines of a decorous laugh 
on her lips, as she said: 'How odd it is that our men 
show to such disadvantage in a Ball-room. I have seen 
them in danger, and there they shine first of any, and 
one is proud of them. They should always be facing 
the elements or in action.' She glanced at the minuet, 
which had become a petrified figure, still palpitating, bent 
forward, an interrogative reminder. 

Mr. Redworth reserved his assent to the proclamation 
of any English disadvantage. A whiff of Celtic hostility 
in the atmosphere put him on his mettle. 'Wherever 
the man is tried,' he said. 

'My lady !' the Irish gentleman bowed to Lady Dun- 
stane. 'I had the honour . . . Sullivan Smith ... at 
the castle . . .' 

She responded to the salute, and Mr. Sullivan Smith 
proceeded to tell her, half in speech, half in dots most 
luminous, of a civil contention between the English 
gentleman and himself, as to the possession of the loveliest 
of partners for this particular ensuing dance, and that they 
had simultaneously made a rush from the Lower Courts, 
namely, their cards, to the Upper, being the lady; and 



28 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Mr. Sullivan Smith partly founded his preferable claim 
on her Irish descent, and on his acquaintance with her 
eminent defunct father — one of the ever-radiating stars 
of his quenchless country. 

Lady Dunstane sympathized with him for his not in- 
truding his claim when the young lady stood pre-engaged, 
as well as in humorous appreciation of his imaginative 
logic. 

'There will be dancing enough after supper,' she said. 

'If I could score one dance with her, I 'd go home 
supperless and feasted,' said he. 'And that 's not saying 
much among the hordes of hungry troopers tip-toe for the 
signal to the buffet. See, my lady, the gentleman, as we 
call him; there he is working his gamut perpetually up 
to da capo. Oh ! but it 's a sheep trying to be wolf ; 
he 's sheep-eyed and he 's wolf-fanged, pathetic and 
larcenous ! Oh, now ! who 'd believe it ! — the man has 
dared ... I 'd as soon think of committing sacrilege 
in a cathedral!' 

The man was actually, to quote his indignant rival, 
'breaching the fortress,' and pointing out to Diana Merion 
'her name on his dirty scrap of paper' : a shocking sight 
when the lady's recollection was the sole point to be 
aimed at, and the only umpire. 'As if all of us couldn't 
have written that, and hadn't done it!' Mr. Sullivan 
Smith groaned disgusted. He hated bad manners, par- 
ticularly in cases involving ladies ; and the bad manners 
of a Saxon fired his antagonism to the race; individual 
members of which he boasted of forgiving and embracing, 
honouring. So the man blackened the race for him, and 
the race was excused in the man. But his hatred of bad 
manners was vehement, and would have extended to a 
fellow-countryman. His own were of the antecedent 
century, therefore venerable. 

Diana turned from her pursuer with a comic woeful 



AN IRISH BALL 29 

lifting of the brows at her friend. Lady Dunstane 
motioned her fan, and Diana came, bending head. 

'Are you bound in honour?' 

'I don't think I am. And I do want to go on talking 
with the General. He is so delightful and modest — ^my 
dream of a true soldier ! — ^telling me of his last big battle, 
bit by bit, to my fishing.' 

'Put off this person for a square dance down the list, 
and take out Mr. Redworth — Miss Diana Merion, Mr. Red- 
worth : he will bring you back to the General, who must 
not totally absorb you, or he will forfeit his popularity.' 

Diana instantly struck a treaty with the pertinacious 
advocate of his claims, to whom, on his relinquishing her, 
Mr. Sullivan Smith remarked: 'Oh! sir, the law of it, 
where a lady's concerned ! You 're one for evictions, I 
should guess, and the anti-human process. It 's that 
letter of the law that stands between you and me and 
mine and yours. But you 've got your congee, and my 
blessing on ye !' 

'It was a positive engagement,' said the enemy. 

Mr. Sullivan Smith derided him. 'And a pretty 
partner you 've pickled for yoiu^elf when she keeps her 
positive engagement !' 

He besought Lady Dimstane to console him with a 
turn. She pleaded weariness. He proposed to sit beside 
her and divert her. She smiled, but warned him that 
she was English in every vein. He interjected: 'Irish 
men and English women ! though it 's putting the cart 
before the horse — ^the copper pennies where the gold 
guineas should be. So here 's the gentleman who takes 
the oyster, like the lawyer of the fable. English is he? 
But we read, the last shall be first. And English women 
and Irish men make the finest coupling in the universe.' 

'Well, you must submit to see an Irish woman led out 
by an English man,' said Lady Dunstane, at the same 



30 DIANA OP THE CROSSWAYS 

time informing the obedient Diana, then bestowing her 
hand on Mr. Redworth to please her friend, that he was a 
schoolfellow of her husband's. 

'Favour can't help coming by rotation, except in very 
extraordinary circumstances, and he was ahead of me 
with you, and takes my due, and 'twould be hard on me 
if I weren't thoroughly indemnified.' Mr. Sullivan Smith 
bowed. 'You gave them just the start over the frozen 
minute for conversation; they were total strangers, and 
he doesn't appear a bad sort of fellow for a temporary 
mate, though he 's not perfectly sure of his legs. And 
that we '11 excuse to any man leading out such a fresh 
young beauty of a Bright Eyes — ^like the stars of a 
winter's night in the frosty season over Columkill, or 
where you will, so that 's in Ireland, to be sure of the 
likeness to her.' 

'Her mother was half English.' 

'Of course she was. And what was my observation 
about the coupling? Dan Merion would make her Irish 
all over. And she has a vein of Spanish blood in her; 
for he had ; and she 's got the colour. — But you spoke of 
their coupling — or I did. Oh, a man can hold his own 
with an English roly-poly mate : he 's not stifled ! But 
a woman hasn't his power of resistance to dead weight. 
She 's volatile, she 's frivolous, a rattler and gabbler — 
haven't I heard what they say of Irish girls over there? 
She marries, and it 's the end of her sparkling. She must 
choose at home for a perfect harmonious partner.' 

Lady Dunstane expressed her opinion that her couple 
danced excellently together. 

'It'd be a bitter thing to see, if the fellow couldn't 
dance, after leading her out !' sighed Mr. Sullivan Smith. 
' I heard of her over there. They call her the Black Pearl, 
and the Irish Lily — because she 's dark. They rack their 
poor brains to get the laugh of us.' 



AN IRISH BALL 31 

'And I listen to you,' said Lady Dunstane. 

' Ah ! if all England, half, a quarter, the smallest piece 
of the land were like you, my lady, I 'd be loyal to the 
finger-nails. Now, is she engaged? — when I get a word 
with her?' 

' She is nineteen, or nearly, and she ought to have five 
good years of freedom, I think.' 

'And five good years of serfdom I 'd serve to win her !' 

A look at him under the eyelids assured Lady Dunstane 
that there would be small chance for Mr. Sullivan Smith, 
after a life of bondage, if she knew her Diana, in spite of 
his tongue, his tact, his lively features, and breadth of 
shoulders. 

Up he sprang. Diana was on Mr. Redworth's arm. 
'No refreshments,' she said; and 'this is my refresh- 
ment,' taking the seat of Mr. Sullivan Smith, who 
ejaculated, 

'I must go and have that gentleman's name.' He 
wanted a foe. 

'You know you are ready to coquette with the General 
at any moment, Tony,' said her friend. 

'Yes, with the General !' 

'He is a noble old man.' 

'Superb. And don't say "old man." With his uni- 
form and his height and his grey head, he is like a glorious 
October day just before the brown leaves fall.' 

Diana hummed a little of the air of Planxty Kelly, the 
favourite of her childhood, as Lady Dunstane well re- 
membered, and they smiled together at the scenes and 
times it recalled. 

'Do you still write verses, Tony?' 

'I could about him. At one part of the fight he 
thought he would be beaten. He was overmatched in 
artillery, and it was a cavalry charge he thundered on 
them, riding across the field to give the word of 



32 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

command to the couple of regiments, riddled to threads, 
that gained the day. That is life — when we dare death 
to live ! I wonder at men, who are men, being anything 
but soldiers ! I told you, madre, my own Emmy, I for- 
gave you for marrying, because it was a soldier.' 

'Perhaps a soldier is to be the happy man. But you 
have not told me a word of yourself. What has been 
done with the old Crossways?' 

'The house, you know, is mine. And it 's all I have : 
ten acres and the house, furnished, and let for less than 
two hundred a year. Oh ! how I long to evict the 
tenants ! They can't have my feeling for the place where 
I was bom. They 're people of tolerably good con- 
nections, middling wealthy, I suppose, of the name of 
Warwick, and, as far as I can understand, they stick there 
to be near the Sussex Downs, for a nephew, who likes to 
ride on them. I 've a half engagement, barely legible, 
to visit them on an indefinite day, and can't bear the idea 
of strangers masters in the old house. I must be driven 
there for shelter, for a roof, some month. And I could 
make a pilgrimage in rain or snow just to doat on the 
outside of it. That 's your Tony.' 

'She 's my darling.' 

' I hear myself speak ! But your voice or mine, madre, 
it 's one soul. Be sure I am giving up the ghost when I 
cease to be one soul with you, dear and dearest ! No 
secrets, never a shadow of a deception, or else I shall 
feel I am not fit to live. Was I a bad correspondent 
when you were in India?' 

'Pretty well. Copious letters when you did write.' 

'I was shy. I knew I should be writing to Emmy and 
another, and only when I came to the flow could I forget 
him. He is very finely built; and I dare say he has a 
head. I read of his deeds in India and quivered. But 
he was just a bit in the way. Men are the barriers to 



MR. REDWORTH AND MR. SULLIVAN SMITH 33 

perfect naturalness, at least, with girls, I think. You 
wrote to me in the same tone as ever, and at first I had 
a struggle to reply. And I, who have such pride in being 
always myself!' 

Two staring semi-circles had formed, one to front the 
Hero, the other the Beauty. These half moons imper- 
ceptibly dissolved to replenish, and became a fixed 
obstruction. 

'Yes, they look,' Diana made answer to Lady Dun- 
stane's comment on the curious impertinence. She was 
getting used to it, and her friend had a gratification in 
seeing how little this affected her perfect naturalness. 

'You are often in the world — dinners, dances?' she said. 

'People are kind.' 

'Any proposals?' 

'Nibbles.' 

'Quite heart-free?' 

'Absolutely.' 

Diana's unshadowed bright face defied all menace of an 
eclipse. 

The block of sturdy gazers began to melt. The General 
had dispersed his group of satellites by a movement with 
the Mayoress on his arm, construed as the signal for pro- 
cession to the supper-table. 



CHAPTER III 

THE INTERIOR OF MR. REDWORTH AND THE EXTERIOR 

OF MR. SULUVAN SMITH 

'It may be as well to take Mr. Redworth's arm ; you will 
escape the crush for you,' said Lady Dunstane to Diana. 
'I don't sup. Yes! go! You must eat, and he is 
handiest to conduct you.' 



34 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Diana thought of her chaperon and the lateness of the 
hour. She murmured, to soften her conscience, 'Poor 
Mrs. Pettigrew!' 

And once more Mr. Redworth, outwardly imperturb- 
able, was in the maelstrom of a happiness resembling 
tempest. He talked, and knew not what he uttered. To 
give this matchless girl the best to eat and drink was his 
business, and he performed it. Oddly, for a man who 
had no loaded design, marshalling the troops in his active 
and capacious cranium, he fell upon calculations of his 
income, present and prospective, while she sat at the 
table and he stood behind her. Others were wrangling 
for places, chairs, plates, glasses, game-pie, champagne: 
she had them ; the lady under his charge to a certainty 
would have them; so far good; and he had seven 
hundred pounds per annum — seven hundred and fifty, in 
a favourable aspect, at a stretch. , . . 

'Yes, the pleasantest thing to me after working all 
day is an opera of Carini's,' she said, in full accord with 
her taste, 'and Tellio for tenor, certainly.' 

—A fair enough sum for a bachelor : four hundred per- 
sonal income, and a prospect of higher dividends to 
increase it; three hundred odd from his oflSce, and no 
immediate prospects of an increase there; no one died 
there, no elderly martyr for the advancement of his 
juniors could be persuaded to die; they were too tough 
to think of retiring. Say, seven hundred and fifty . . . 
eight hundred, if the commerce of the country fortified 
the Bank his property was embarked in ; or eight-fifty : 
or nine, ten. . . . 

'I could call him my poet also,' Mr. Redworth agreed 
with her taste in poets. 'His letters are among the best 
ever written — or ever published: the raciest English I 
know. Frank, straight out: capital descriptions. The 
best English letter-writers are as good as the French — 



MR. REDWORTH AND MR. SULLIVAN SMITH 35 

You don't think so? — in their way, of course. I dare 
say we don't sufficiently cultivate the art. We require 
the supple tongue a closer intercourse of society gives.' 

— Eight or ten hundred. Comfortable enough for a 
man in chambers. To dream of entering as a house- 
holder on that sum, in these days, would be stark non- 
sense : and a man two removes from a baronetcy has no 
right to set his reckoning on deaths: — if he does, he 
becomes a sort of meditative assassin. But what were 
the Fates about when they planted a man of the ability 
of Tom Redworth in a Government office ! Clearly they 
intended him to remain a bachelor for life. And they sent 
him over to Ireland on inspection duty for a month to 
have sight of an Irish Beauty. . . . 

'Think war the finest subject for poets?' he ex- 
claimed. 'Flatly no: I don't thiak it. I think exactly 
the reverse. It brings out the noblest traits in human 
character? I won't own that even. It brings out some : 
but under excitement, when you have not always the real 
man. — ^Pray don't sneer at domestic life. Well, there 
was a suspicion of disdain. — ^Yes, I can respect the hero, 
military or civil ; with this distinction, that the military 
hero aims at personal reward — ' 

'He braves wounds and death,' interposed Diana. 

'Whereas the civilian hero — ' 

'Pardon me, let me deny that the soldier-hero aims at 
a personal reward,' she again interposed. 

'He gets it.' 

'If he is not beaten.' 

'And then he is no longer a hero.' 

'He is to me.' 

She had a woman's inveterate admiration of the profes- 
sion of arms. Mr. Redworth endeavoured to render prac- 
ticable an opening in her mind to reason. He admitted 
the grandeur of the poetry of Homer. We are a few 



36 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

centuries in advance of Homer. We do not slay damsels for 
a sacrifice to propitiate celestial wrath ; nor do we revel in 
details of slaughter. He reasoned with her ; he repeated 
stories known to him of civilian heroes, and won her assent 
to the heroical title for their deeds, but it was languid, or 
not so bright as the deeds deserved — or as the young lady 
could look ; and he insisted on the civilian hero, impelled 
by some unconscious motive to make her see the thing 
he thought, also the thing he was — ^his plain mind and 
matter-of-fact nature. Possibly she caught a glimpse of 
that. After a turn of fencing, in which he was impressed 
t)y the vibration of her tones when speaking of military 
^heroes, she quitted the table, saying: 'An argument be- 
tween one at supper and another handing plates, is rather 
unequal if eloquence is needed. As Pat said to the con- 
rstable, when his hands were tied, You beat me with the 
fists, but my spirit is towering and kicks freely.' 
- — Eight hundred? a thousand a year, two thousand, 
are as nothing in the calculation of a householder who 
means that the mistress of the house shall have the 
choicest of the fruits and flowers of the Four Quarters; 
and Thomas Redworth had vowed at his first outlook on 
the wprld of women, that never should one of the sister- 
hood coming under his charge complain of not having 
them in profusion. Consequently he was a settled 
bachelor. In the character of disengaged and unaspiring 
philosophical bachelor, he reviewed the revelations of 
her character betrayed by the beautiful virgin devoted 
to the sanguine coat. The thrill of her voice in speaking 
of soldier-heroes shot him to the yonder side of a gulf. 
Not knowing why, for he had no scheme, desperate or 
other, in his head, the least affrighted of men was fright- 
ened by her tastes, and by her aplomb, her inoffensiveness 
in freedom of manner and self-sufficiency — sign of purest 
breeding : and by her easy, peerless vivacity, her proofs 



MR. REDWORTH AND MR. SULLIVAN SMITH 37 

of descent from the blood of Dan Merion — a wildish 
blood. The candour of the look of her eyes m speaking, 
her power of lookuig forthright at men, and looking the 
thing she spoke, and the play of her voluble lips, the 
significant repose of her lips in silence, her weighing of the 
words he uttered, for a moment before the prompt appo- 
site reply, down to her simple quotation of Pat, alarmed 
him; he did not ask himself why. His manly self was 
not intruded on his cogitations. A mere eight himdred 
or thousand per annum had no place in that midst. He 
beheld her quietly selecting the position of dignity to suit 
her : an eminent military man, or statesman, or wealthy 
nobleman: she had but to choose. A war would offer 
her the decorated soldier she wanted. A war! Such 
are women of this kind ! The thought revolted him, and 
pricked his appetite for supper. He did service by Mrs. 
Pettigrew, to which lady Miss Merion, as she said, pro- 
moted him, at the table, and then began to refresh in 
person, standing. 

'Malkin! that's the fellow's name'; he heard close 
at his ear. 

Mr. Sullivan Smith had drained a champagne-glass, 
bottle in hand, and was priming the successor to it. He 
cocked his eye at Mr. Redworth's quick stare. ' Malkin ! 
And now we'll see whether the interior of him is grey, 
or black, or tabby, or tortoise-shell, or any other colour 
of the Malkin breed.' 

He explained to Mr. Redworth that he had summoned 
Mr. Malkin to answer to him as a gentleman for calling 
Miss Merion a jilt. 'The man, sir, said in my hearing, 
she jilted him, and that 's to call the lady a jilt. There 's 
not a point of difference, not a shade. I overheard him. 
I happened by the blessing of Providence to be by when 
he named her publicly jilt. And it 's enough that she 's a 
la^y to have me for her champion. The same if she had 



38 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

been an Esquimaux squaw. I '11 never live to hear a 
lady insulted.' 

'You don't mean to say you 're the donkey to provoke 
a duel !' Mr. Redworth burst out gruflSy, through turkey 
and stuffing. 

'And an Irish lady, the young Beauty of Erin!' Mr. 
Sullivan Smith was flowing on. He became frigid, he 
politely bowed: 'Two, sir, if you haven't the grace to 
withdraw the offensive term before it cools and can't be 
obliterated.' 

'Fiddle ! and go to the deuce !' Mr. Redworth crisd. 

' Would a soft slap o' the cheek persuade you, sir ? ' 

'Try it outside, and don't bother me with nonsense of 
that sort at my supper. If I 'm struck, I strike back. I 
keep my pistols for bandits and law-breakers. Here,' 
said Mr. Redworth, better inspired as to the way of treat- 
ing an ultra of the isle ; 'touch glasses : you 're a gentle- 
man, and won't disturb good company. By-and-by.' 

The pleasing prospect of by-and-by renewed in Mr. 
Sullivan Smith his composure. They touched the foam- 
ing glasses : upon which, in a friendly manner, Mr. Sulli- 
van Smith proposed that they should go outside as soon 
as Mr. Redworth had finished supper — quite finished 
supper: for the reason that the term 'donkey' affixed 
to him was like a minster cap of schooldays, ringing bells 
on his topknot, and also that it stuck in his gizzard. 

Mr. Redworth declared the term to be simply hypo- 
thetical. '// you fight, you're a donkey for doing it. 
But you won't fight.' 

'But I will fight.' 

'He won't fight.' 

'Then for the honour of your country you must. But 
I 'd rather have him first, for I haven't drunk with him, 
and it should be a case of necessity to put a bullet or a 
couple of inches of steel through the man you 've drunk 



MR. REDWORTH AND MR. SULLIVAN SMITH 39 

with. And what 's in your favour, she danced with ye. 
She seemed to take to ye, and the man she has the 
smallest sugar-melting for is sacred if he 's not sweet to 
me. 7/ he retracts !' 

'Hypothetically, No.' 

'But supposititiously ? ' 

' Certainly.' 

'Then we grasp hands on it. It 's Malkin or nothing !' 
said Mr. Sullivan Smith, swinging his heel moodily to 
wander in search of the foe. How one sane man could 
name another a donkey for fighting to clear an innocent 
young lady's reputation, passed his rational conception. 

Sir Lukin hastened to Mr. Redworth to have a talk 
over old schooldays and fellows. 

'I '11 tell you what,' said the civilian, 'There are Irish- 
men and Irishmen. I 've met cool heads and long heads 
among them, and you and I knew Jack Derry, who was 
good at most things. But the burlesque Irishman can't 
be caricatured. Nature strained herself in a fit of 
absurdity to produce him, and all that Art can do is to 
copy.' 

This was his prelude to an account of Mr. Sullivan 
Smith, whom, as a specimen, he rejoiced to have met. 

'There's a chance of mischief,' said Sir Lukin. 'I 
know nothing of the man he calls Malkin. I '11 inquire 
presently.' 

He talked of his prospects, and of the women. Fair 
ones, in his opinion, besides Miss Merion were parading ; 
he sketched two or three of his partners with a broad 
brush of epithets. 

' It won't do for Miss Merion's name to be mixed up in 
a duel,' said Redworth. 

'Not if she's to- make her fortune in England,' said 
Sir Lukin. ' It 's probably all smoke.' 

The remark had hardly escaped him when a wreath of 



40 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

metaphorical smoke, and fire, and no mean report, 
startled the company of supping gentlemen. At the 
pitch of his voice, Mr. Sullivan Smith denounced Mr. 
Malkin in presence for a cur masquerading as a cat. 

'And that is not the scoundrel's prime offence. For 
what d' ye think? He trumps up an engagement to 
dance with a beautiful lady, and because she can't re- 
member, binds her to an oath for a dance to come, and 
then, holding her prisoner to 'm, he sulks, the dirty dog- 
cat goes and sulks, and he won't dance and won't do 
anything but screech up in comers that he 's jilted. He 
said the word. Dozens of gentlemen heard the word. 
And I demand an apology of Misterr Malkin — or . . ! 
And none of your guerrier nodding and bravado. Mister 
Malkin, at me, if you please. The case is for settlement 
between gentlemen.' 

The harassed gentleman of the name of Malkin, driven 
to extremity by the worrying, stood in braced preparation 
for the English attitude of defence. His tormentor drew 
closer to him. 

'Mind, I give you warning, if you lay a finger on me 
I '11 knock you down,' said he. 

Most joyfully Mr. Sullivan Smith uttered a low melodi- 
ous cry. 'For a specimen of manners, in an assembly 
of ladies and gentlemen ... I ask ye!' he addressed 
the ring about him, to put his adversary entirely in the 
wrong before provoking the act of war. And then, as 
one intending gently to remonstrate, he was on the point 
of stretching out his finger to the shoulder of Mr. Malkin, 
when Redworth seized his arm, saying: 'I 'm your man: 
me first : you 're due to me.' 

Mr. Sullivan Smith beheld the vanishing of his foe in a 
cloud of faces. Now was he wroth on patently reasonable 
grounds. He threatened Saxondom. Man up, man 
down, he challenged the race of short-legged, thickset, 



MR. REDWORTH AND MR. SULLIVAN SMITH 41 

wooden-pated curmudgeons : and let it be pugilism if 
their white livers shivered at the notion of powder and 
ball. Redworth, in the struggle to haul him away, re- 
ceived a blow from him. 'And you've got it! you 
would have it !' roared the Celt. 

'Excuse yourself to the company for a misdirected 
effort,' Redworth said ; and he observed generally : ' No 
Irish gentleman strikes a blow in good company.' 

' But that 's true as Writ ! And I offer excuses — if 
you 'U come along with me and a couple of friends. 
The thing has been done before by torchlight — and 
neatly.' 

'Come along, and come alone,' said Redworth. 

A way was cleared for them. Sir Lukin hurried up to 
Redworth, who had no doubt of his ability to manage 
Mr. Sullivan Smith. 

He managed that fine-hearted but purely sensational 
fellow so well that Lady Dunstane and Diana, after hear- 
ing in. some anxiety of the hubbub below, beheld them 
entering the long saloon amicably, with the nods and 
looks of gentlemen quietly accordant. 

A little later. Lady Dunstane questioned Redworth, 
and he smoothed her apprehensions, delivering himself, 
much to her comfort, thus : ' In no case would any lady's 
name have been raised. The whole affair was nonsensical. 
He 's a capital fellow of a kind, capable of behaving like 
a man of the world and a gentleman. Only he has, or 
thinks he has, like lots of his countrymen, a raw wound 
— something that itches to be grazed. Champagne on 
that ! . . . Irishmen, as far as I have seen of them, are, 
like horses, bimdles of nerves; and you must manage 
them, as you do with all nervous creatures, with firmness, 
but good temper. You must never get into a fury of the 
nerves yourself with them. Spur and whip they don't 
want ; they '11 be off with you in a jiffy if you try it. 



42 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

They want the bridle-rein. That seems to me the secret 
of Irish character. We English are not bad horsemen. 
It 's a wonder we blunder so in our management of such 
a people.' 

'I wish you were in a position to put your method to 
the proof/ said she. 

He shrugged. 'There 's little chance of it !' 

To reward him for his practical discretion, she con- 
trived that Diana should give him a final dance ; and the 
beautiful girl smiled quickly responsive to his appeal. 
He was, moreover, sensible in her look and speech that 
he had advanced in her consideration to be no longer the 
mere spinning stick, a young lady's partner. By which 
he humbly understood that her friend approved him. A 
gentle delirium enfolded his brain. A householder's life 
is often begun on eight hundred a year: on less: on 
much less : — sometimes on nothing but resolution to 
make a fitting income, carving out a fortune. Eight 
hundred may stand as a superior basis. That sum is a 
distinct point of vantage. If it does not mean a carriage 
and Parisian millinery and a station for one of the stars 
of society, it means at any rate security ; and then, the 
heart of the man being strong and sound . . . 

'Yes,' he replied to her, 'I like my experien(Je of Ire- 
land and the Irish ; and better than I thought I should. 
St. George's Channel ought to be crossed oftener by both 
of us.' 

'I 'm always glad of the signal,' said Diana. 

He had implied the people of the two islands. He 
allowed her interpretation to remain personal, for the 
sake of a creeping deliciousness that it carried through 
his blood. 

' Shall you soon be returning to England ? ' he ventured 
to ask, 

'I am Lady Dunstane's guest for some months.' 



MR. REDWORTH AND MR. SULLIVAN SMITH 43 

'Then you will. Sir Lukin has an estate in Surrey. 
He talks of quitting the Service.' 

'I can't believe it!' 

His thrille'd blood was chilled. She entertained a 
sentiment amounting to adoration for the profession of 
arms ! 

Gallantly had the veteran General and Hero held on 
into the night, that the festivity might not be dashed by 
his departure; perhaps, to a certain degree, to prolong 
his enjoyment of a flattering scene. At last Sir Lukin 
had the word from him, and came to his wife. Diana 
slipped across the floor to her accommodating chaperon, 
whom, for the sake of another five minutes with her 
beloved Emma, she very agreeably persuaded to walk 
in the train of Lord Larrian, and forth they trooped down 
a pathway of nodding heads and curtsies, resembling oak 
and birch-trees under a tempered gale, even to the shed- 
ding of leaves, for here a turban was picked up by Sir 
Lukin, there a jewelled ear-ring by the self-constituted 
attendant, Mr. Thomas Redworth. At the portico rang 
a wakening cheer, really worth hearing. The rain it 
rained, and hats were formless, as in the first con- 
ception of the edifice, backs were damp, boots liquidly 
musical, the pipe of consolation smoked with difficulty, 
with much pulling at the stem, but the cheer arose mag- 
nificently, and multiplied itself, touching at the same 
moment the heavens and Diana's heart — at least, drawing 
them together ; for she felt exalted, enraptured, as proud 
of her countrymen as of their hero. 

'That's the natural shamrock, after the artificial!' 
she heard Mr. Redworth say, behind her. 

She turned and sent one of her brilliant glances flying 
over him, in gratitude for a timely word well said. And 
she never forgot the remark, nor he the look. 



44 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 



CHAPTER IV 

CONTAINING HINTS OF DIANA's EXPEEIENCES AND OP 
WHAT THEY LED TO 

A FORTNIGHT after this memorable Ball the principal 
actors of both sexes had crossed the Channel back to Eng- 
land, and old Ireland was left to her rains from above and 
her undrained bogs below; her physical and her mental 
vapours; her ailments and her bog-bred doctors; as to 
whom the governing country trusted they would be silent 
or discourse humorously. 

The residence of Sir Lukin Dunstane, in the county of 
Surrey, inherited by him during his recent term of Indian 
services, was on the hUls, where a day of Italian sky, or 
better, a day of our breezy South-west, washed from the 
showery night, gives distantly a tower to view, and a 
murky web, not without colour: the ever-flying banner 
of the metropolis, the smoke of the city's chimneys, if 
you prefer plain language. At a first inspection of the 
house, Lady Dunstane did not like it, and it was adver- 
tized to be let, and the auctioneer proclaimed it in his 
dialect. Her taste was delicate; she had the sensitive- 
ness of an invalid : twice she read the stalking advertize- 
ment of the attractions of Copsley, and hearing Diana 
call it ' the plush of speech,' she shuddered ; she decided 
that a place where her husband's family had lived ought 
not to stand forth meretriciously spangled and daubed, 
like a show-booth at a fair, for a bait ; though the gran- 
diloquent man of advertizing letters assured Sir Lukin 
that a public agape for the big and gaudy mouthful is in 
no milder way to be caught ; as it is apparently the case. 
She withdrew the trmnpeting placard. Retract we like- 



HINTS OF DIANA'S EXPERIENCES 45 

wise 'banner of the metropolis.' That plush of speech 
haunts all efforts to swell and illuminate citizen prose 
to a princely poetic. 

Yet Lady Dunstane herself could name the bank of 
smoke, when looking North-eastward from her summer- 
house, the flag of London : and she was a person of the 
critical mind, well able to distinguish between the simple 
metaphor and the superobese. A year of habitation ia- 
duced her to conceal her dislike of the place in love : cat's 
love, she owned. Here, she confessed to Diana, she would 
wish to live to her end. It seemed remote, where an 
invigorating upper air gave new bloom to her cheeks ; 
but she kept one secret from her friend. 

Copsley was an estate of nearly twelve hundred acres, 
extending across the ridge of the hills to the slopes North 
and South. Seven counties rolled their backs imder this 
commanding height, and it would have tasked a pigeon to 
fly within an hour the stretch of country visible at the 
Copsley windows. Sunrise to right, sunset leftward, the 
borders of the groimds held both flaming horizons. So 
much of the heavens and of earth is rarely granted to a 
dwelling. The drawback was the structure, which had no 
charm, scarce a face. 'It is written that I should live in 
barracks,' Lady Dunstane said. The colour of it taught 
white to impose a sense of gloom. Her cat's love of the 
familiar inside comers was never able to embrace the 
outer walls. Her sensitiveness, too, was racked by the 
presentation of so pitiably ugly a figure to the landscape. 
She likened it to a coarse-featured country wench, whose 
cleaning and decorating of her coimtenance makes com- 
plexion grin and ruggedness yawn. Dirty, dilapidated, 
hung with weeds and parasites, it would have been more 
tolerable. She tried the effect of various creepers, and 
they were as a staring paint. What it was like then, she 
ha<J no heart to say. 



46 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

One may, however, fall on a pleasurable resignation in 
accepting great indemnities, as Diana bade her believe, 
when the first disgust began to ebb. 'A good hundred 
over there would think it a Paradise for an asylum' : 
she signified London. Her friend bore such reminders 
meekly. They were readers of books of all sorts, political, 
philosophical, economical, romantic; and they mixed 
the diverse readings in thought, after the fashion of the 
ardently youthful. Romance affected politics, trans- 
formed economy, irradiated philosophy. They discussed 
the knotty question. Why things were not done, the things 
being confessedly to do; and they cut the knot. Men, 
men calling themselves statesmen, declined to perform 
that operation, because, forsooth, other men objected to 
have it performed on them. And common humanity 
declared it to be for the common weal ! If so, then it is 
clearly indicated as a course of action : we shut our eyes 
against logic and the vaunted laws of economy. They 
are the knot we cut; or would cut, had we the sword. 
Diana did it to the tune of Garryowen or Planxty Kelly. 
O for a despot! The cry was for a beneficent despot, 
naturally : a large-minded benevolent despot. In short, 
a despot to obey their bidding. Thoughtful young people 
who think through the heart soon come to this conclusion. 
The heart is the beneficent despot they would be. He 
cures those miseries ; he creates the novel harmony. He 
sees all difficulties through his own sanguine hues. He 
is the musical poet of the problem, demanding merely to 
have it solved that he may sing: clear proof of the 
necessity for solving it immediately. 

Thus far in their pursuit of methods for the govern- 
ment of a nation, to make it happy, Diana was leader. 
Her fine ardour and resonance, and more than the con- 
vincing ring of her voice, the girl's impassioned rapidity in 
rushing through any perceptible avenue of the labyrinth, 



mNTS OF DIANA'S EXPERIENCES 47 

or beating down obstacles to form one, and coming swiftly 
to some solution, constituted her the chief of the pair 
of democratic rebels in questions that clamoured for 
instant solution. By dint of reading solid writers, using 
the brains they possessed, it was revealed to them gradu- 
ally that their particular impatience came perhaps of the 
most earnest desire to get to a comfortable termination 
of the inquiry : — the heart aching for mankind sought a 
nest for itself. At this point Lady Dimstane took the 
lead. Diana had to be tugged to foUow. She could not 
accept a 'perhaps' that cast dubiousness on her dis- 
interested championship. She protested a perfect cer- 
tainty of the single aim of her heart outward. But she 
reflected. She discovered that her friend had gone ahead 
of her. 

The discovery was reached, and even acknowledged, 
before she could persuade herself to swallow the repulsive 
truth. O self ! self ! self ! are we eternally masking in a1 
domino that reveals your hideous old face when we could i '^Y 
be most positive we had escaped you? Eternally! the 
desolating answer knelled. Nevertheless the poor, the 
starving, the overtaxed in labour, tkey have a right to the 
cry of Now ! now ! They have ; and if a cry could con- 
duct us to the secret of aiding, healing, feeding, elevating 
them, we might swell the cry. As it is, we must lay it 
on our wits patiently to track and find the secret; and 
meantime do what the individual with his poor pittance 
can. A miserable contribution! sighed the girl. Old 
Self was perceived in the sigh. She was haunted. 

After all, one must live one's life. Placing her on a 
lower pedestal in her self-esteem, the philosophy of youth 
revived her; and if the abatement of her personal pride 
was dispiriting, she began to see an advantage in getting 
inward eyes. 

'^It 's infinitely better I should know it, Emmy — I 'm 



48 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

a reptile ! Pleasure here, pleasure there, I 'm always 
thinking of pleasure. I shall give up thinking and take 
to drifting. Neither of us can do more than open purses ; 
and mine 's lean. If the old Crossways had no tenant, it 
would be a purse all mouth. And charity is haunted, like 
everything we do. Only I say with my whole strength 
— yes, I am sure, in spite of the men professing that they 
are practical, the rich will not move without a goad. I 
have and hold — you shall hunger and covet, until you 
are strong enough to force my hand : — that 's the speech 
of the wealthy. And they are Christians. In name. 
Well, I thank heaven I 'm at war with myself.' 

'You always manage to strike out a sentence worth 
remembering, Tony,' said Lady Dunstane. 'At war with 
ourselves, means the best happiness we can have.' 

It suited her, frail as her health was, and her wisdom 
striving to the spiritual of happiness. War with herself 
was far from happiness in the bosom of Diana. She 
wanted external life, action, fields for energies, to vary the 
struggle. It fretted and rendered her ill at ease. In her 
solitary rides with Sir Lukin through a long winter season, 
she appalled that excellent but conventionally-minded 
gentleman by starting, nay supporting, theories next to 
profane in the consideration of a land-owner. She spoke 
of Reform : of the Repeal of the Corn Laws as the simple 
beginning of the grants due to the people. She had her 
ideas, of course, from that fellow Redworth, an occasional 
visitor at Copsley; and a man might be a donkey and 
think what he pleased, since he had a vocabulary to 
back his opinions. A woman, Sir Lukin held, was by 
nature a mute in politics. Of the thing called a Radical 
woman, he could not believe that she was less than mon- 
strous: 'with a nose,' he said; and doubtless, horse 
teeth, hatchet jaws, slatternly in the gown, slipshod, 
awful. As for a girl, an unmarried, handsome girl, ad- 



HINTS OF DIANA'S EXPERIENCES 49 

mittedly beautiful, her interjections, echoing a man, were 
ridiculous, and not a little annosang now and then, for 
she could be piercingly sarcastic. Her vocabulary in 
irony was a quiverful. He admired her and liked her 
immensely; complaining only of her turn for unfeminine 
topics. He pardoned her on the score of the petty differ- 
ence rankling between them in reference to his abandon- 
ment of his Profession, for here she was patriotically 
wrong-headed. Everybody knew that he had sold out 
in order to look after his estates of Copsley and Dunena, 
secondly : and in the first place, to niu^e and be a com- 
panion to his wife. He had left her but four times in 
five months ; he had spent just three weeks of that time 
away from her in London. No one could doubt of his 
having kept his pledge, although his wife occupied her- 
self with books and notions and subjects foreign to his 
taste — his understanding, too, he owned. And Red- 
worth had approved of his retirement, had a contempt 
for soldiering. 'Quite as great as yours for civilians, I 
can tell you,' Sir Lukin said, dashing out of politics to 
the vexatious personal subject. Her unexpressed disdain 
was ruffling. 

'Mr. Red worth recommends work: he respects the 
working soldier,' said Diana. 

Sir Lukin exclaimed that he had been a working 
soldier ; he was ready to serve if his country wanted him. 
He directed her to anathematize Peace, instead of scorn- 
ing a fellow for doing the duties next about him : and the 
mention of Peace fetched him at a bound back to politics. 
He quoted a distinguished Tory orator, to the effect, 
that any lengthened term of peace bred maggots in the 
heads of the people. 

'Mr. Redworth spoke of it: he translated something 
from Aristophanes for a retort,' said Diana. 

'"^ell, we 're friends, eh?' Sir Lukin put forth a hand. 



50 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

She looked at him surprised at the unnecessary call for 
a show of friendship ; she touched his hand with two tips 
of her fingers, remarking, 'I should think so, indeed.' 

He deemed it prudent to hint to his wife that Diana 
Merion appeared to be meditating upon Mr. Redworth. 

'That is a serious misfortune, if true,' said Lady 
Dunstane. She thought so for two reasons: Mr. Red- 
worth generally disagreed in opinion with Diana, and 
contradicted her so flatly as to produce the impression of 
his not even sharing the popular admiration of her beauty ; 
and, further, she hoped for Diana to make a splendid 
marriage. The nibbles threatened to be snaps and bites. 
There had been a proposal, in an epistle, a quaint effusion, 
from a gentleman avowing that he had seen her and had 
not danced with her on the night of the Irish ball. He 
was rejected, but Diana groaned over the task of replying 
to the unfortunate applicant, so as not to wound him. 
'Shall I have to do this often, I wonder?' she said. 

' Unless you capitulate,' said her friend. 

Diana's exclamation : 'May I be heart-free for another 
ten years !' encouraged Lady Dunstane to suppose her 
husband quite mistaken. 

In the Spring Diana went on a first pilgrimage to her 
old home. The Crossways, and was kindly entertained by 
the uncle and aimt of a treasured nephew, Mr. Augustus 
Warwick. She rode with him on the Downs. A visit of 
a week humanized her view of the intruders. She wrote 
almost tenderly of her host and hostess to Lady Dunstane ; 
they had but 'the one fault of spoiling their nephew.' 
Him she described as a 'gentlemanly ofiicial,' a picture of 
him. His age was thirty-four. He seemed 'fond of her 
scenery.' Then her pen swept over the Downs like a 
flying horse. Lady Dunstane thought no more of the 
gentlemanly official. He was a barrister who did not 
practise : in nothing the man for Diana. Letters came 



HINTS OF DIANA'S EXPERIENCES 51 

from the house of the Pettigrews in Kent ; from London ; 
from Halford Manor m Hertfordshire; from Lockton 
Grange in Lincolnshire: after which they ceased to be 
the thrice weekly ; and reading the latest of them, Lady 
Dunstane imagined a flustered quill. The letter succeed- 
ing the omission contained no excuse, and it was brief. 
There was a strange interjection, as to the wearifulness of 
constantly wandering, like a leaf off the tree. Diana 
spoke of looking for a return of the dear winter days at 
Copsley. That was her station. Either she must have 
had some disturbing experience, or Copsley was dear for 
a Redworth reason, thought the anxious peruser ; musing, 
dreaming, putting together divers shreds of correspondence 
and testing them with her intimate knowledge of Diana's 
character, Lady Dunstane conceived that the unprotected 
beautiful girl had suffered a persecution, it might be an 
insult. She spelt over the names of the guests at the 
houses. Lord Wroxeter was of evil report: Captain 
Rampan, a Turf captain, had the like notoriety. And it 
is impossible in a great house for the hostess to spread 
her segis to cover every dame and damsel present. She 
has to depend on the women being discreet, the men 
civilized. 

'How brutal men can be!' was one of Diana's inci- 
dental remarks, in a subsequent letter, relating simply to 
masculine habits. In those days the famous ancestral 
plea of 'the passion for his charmer' had not been alto- 
gether socially quashed down among the provinces, where 
the bottle maintained a sort of sway, and the beauty which 
inflamed the sons of men was held to be in coy expecta- 
tion of violent effects upon their boiUng blood. There 
were, one hears that there stiU are, remnants of the 
pristine male, who, if resisted in their suing, conclude 
that they are scorned, and it infuriates them : some also 
whose 'passion for the charmer' is an instinct to puU 



52 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

down the standard of the sex, by a bully imposition of 
sheer physical ascendancy, whenever they see it flying 
with an air of gallant independence: and some who 
dedicate their lives to a study of the arts of the Lord of 
Reptiles, until they have worked the crisis for a display 
of him in person. Assault or siege, they have achieved 
their triumphs ; they have dominated a frailer system of 
nerves, and a young woman without father, or brother, 
or husband, to defend her, is cryingly a weak one, there- 
fore inviting to such an order ^f heroes. Lady Dunstane 
was quick-witted and had a talkative husband ; she knew 
a little of the upper social world of her time. She was 
heartily glad to have Diana by her side again. 

Not a word of any serious experience was uttered. 
Only on one occasion while they conversed, something 
being mentioned of her tolerance, a flush of swarthy 
crimson shot over Diana, and she frowned, with the out- 
cry 'Oh ! I have discovered that I can be a tigress !' 

Her friend pressed her hand, saying, 'The cause a good 
one !' 
S 'Women have to fight.' 

Diana said no more. There had been a bad experience 
of her isolated position in the world. 

Lady Dunstane now indulged a partial hope that Mr. 
Redworth might see in this unprotected beautiful girl a 
person worthy of his esteem. He had his opportunities, 
and evidently he liked her. She appeared to take more 
cordially to him. She valued the sterling nature of the 
man. But they were a hopeless couple, they were so 
friendly. Both ladies noticed in him an abstractedness 
of look, often when conversing, as of a man in calculation ; 
they put it down to an ambitious mind. Yet Diana said 
then, and said always, that it was he who had first taught 
her the art of observing. On the whole, the brilliant mar- 
riage seemed a fairer prospect for her ; how reasonable to 



HINTS OF DIANA'S EXPERIENCES 53 

anticipate, Lady Dunstane often thought when admiring 
the advance of Diana's beauty in queenliness, for never 
did woman carry her head more grandly, more thrillingly 
make her presence felt; and if only she had been an 
actress showing herself nightly on a London stage, she 
would before now have met the superb appreciation, 
melancholy to reflect upon ! 

Diana regained her happy composure at Copsley. She 
had, as she imagined, no ambition. The dulness of the 
place conveyed a charm to a nature recovering from dis- 
turbance to its clear smooth flow. Air, light, books, and 
her friend, these good things she had ; they were all she 
wanted. She rode, she walked, with Sir Lukin or Mr. 
Redworth, for companion ; or with Saturday and Sunday 
guests, Lord Larrian, her declared admirer, among them. 
'Twenty years younger !' he said to her, shrugging, with 
a merry smile drawn a little at the corners to sober sour- 
ness; and she vowed to her friend that she would not 
have had the heart to refuse him. 'Though,' said she, 
'speaking generally, I cannot teU you what a foreign 
animal a husband would appear in my kingdom.' Her , 
experience had wakened a sexual aversion, of some slight > 
kind, enough to make her feminine pride stipulate for ; 
perfect independence, that she might have the calm out-) 
of which imagination spreads wing. Imagination had 
become her broader life, and on such an earth, under such 
skies, a husband who is not the fountain of it, certainly 
is a foreign animal : he is a discordant note. He con- \ 
tracts the ethereal world, deadens radiancy. He is gross j 
fact, a leash, a muzzle, harness, a hood, whatever is 
detestable to the free limbs and senses. It amused Lady 
Dunstane to hear Diana say, one evening when their 
conversation fell by hazard on her future, that the idea 
of a convent was more welcome to her than the most j 
splendid marriage. 'For,' she added, 'as I am sure I 



54 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

shall never know anything of this love they rattle about 
and rave about, I shall do well to keep to my good single 
path ; and I have a warning within me that a step out 
of it will be a wrong one — ^for me, dearest !' 

She wished her view of the yoke to be considered purely 
personal, drawn from no examples and comparisons. 
The excellent Sir Lukin was passing a great deal of his 
time in London. His wife had not a word of blame for 
him; he was a respectful husband, and attentive when 
present; but so uncertain, owing to the sudden pressure 
of engagements, that Diana, bound on a second visit to 
The Crossways, doubted whether she would be able to 
quit her friend, whose condition did not allow of her being 
left solitary at Copsley. He came nevertheless a day 
before Diana's appointed departure on her round of visits. 
She was pleased with him, and let him see it, for the 
encouragement of a husband in the observance of his 
duties. One of the horses had fallen lame, so they went 
out for a walk, at Lady Dunstane's request. It was a 
delicious afternoon of Spring, with the full red disk of sun 
dropping behind the brown beech-twigs. She remem- 
bered long afterward the sweet simpleness of her feelings 
as she took in the scent of wild flowers along the lanes 
and entered the woods — ^jaws of another monstrous and 
blackening experience. He fell into the sentimental vein, 
and a man coming from that heated London life to these 
glorified woods, might be excused for doing so, though 
it sounded to her just a little ludicrous in him. She 
played tolerantly second to it; she quoted a snatch of 
poetry, and his whole face was bent to her, with the 
petition that she would repeat the verse. Much struck 
was this giant ex-dragoon. Ah ! how fine ! grand ! He 
would rather hear that than any opera : it was diviner ! 
'Yes, the best poetry is,' she assented. 'On your lips,' he 
said. She laughed. 'I am not a particularly melodious 



HINTS OF DIANA'S EXPERIENCES 55 

reciter.' He vowed he could listen to her eternally, eter- 
nally. His face, on a screw of the neck and shoulders, 
was now perpetually three-quarters fronting. Ah! she 
was going to leave. — 'Yes, and you will find my return 
quite early enough,' said Diana, stepping a trifle more 
briskly. His fist was raised on the length of the arm, 
as if in invocation. 'Not in the whole of London is 
there a woman worthy to fasten your shoe-buckles ! 
My oath on it ! I look ; I can't spy one.' Such was his 
flattering eloquence. 

She told him not to think it necessary to pay her com- 
pliments. 'And here, of all places!' They were in the 
heart of the woods. She foimd her hand seized — her 
waist. Even then, so impossible is it to conceive the 
unimaginable even when the apparition of it smites us, 
she expected some protesting absurdity, or that he had 
seen something in her path. — What did she hear? And 
from her friend's husband ! 

If stricken idiotic, he was a gentleman ; the tigress she 
had detected in her composition did not require to be 
called forth; half-a-dozen words, direct, sharp as fangs 
and teeth, with the eyes burning over them, suflBced for 
the work of defence. — 'The man who swore loyalty to 
Emma!' Her reproachful repulsion of eyes was un- 
mistakeable, withering ; as masterful as a superior force 
on his muscles. — ^What thing had he been taking her for ? 
— She asked it within : and he of himself, in a reflective 
gasp. Those eyes of hers appeared as in a cloud, with 
the wrath above : she had the look of a Goddess in anger. 
He stammered, pleaded across her flying shoulder — Oh ! 
horrible, loathsome, pitiable to hear! ... 'A momen- 
tary aberration . . . her beauty ... he deserved to 
be shot ! . . . could not help admiring . . . quite lost 
his head ... on his honour ! never again ! ' 

Once in the roadway, and Copsley visible, she checked 



56 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

her arrowy pace for breath, and almost commiserated the 
dejected wretch m her thankfulness to him for silence. 
Nothing exonerated him, but at least he had the grace 
not to beg secresy. That would have been an intolerable 
whine of a poltroon, adding to her humiliation. He 
abstained; he stood at her mercy without appealing. 

She was not the woman to take poor vengeance. But, 
Oh ! she was profoundly humiliated, shamed through and 
through. The question, was I guilty of any lightness — 
anything to bring this on me ? would not be laid. And 
how she pitied her friend ! This house, her heart's home, 
was now a wreck to her: nay, worse, a hostile citadel. 
The burden of the task of meeting Emma with an open 
face, crushed her like very guilt. Yet she succeeded. 
After an hour in her bedchamber she managed to lock up 
her heart and simimon the sprite of acting to her tongue 
and features: which ready attendant on the suffering 
female host performed his liveliest throughout the even- 
ing, to Emma's amusement, and to the culprit ex- 
dragoon's astonishment; in whom, to tell the truth of 
him, her sparkle and fun kindled the sense of his being 
less criminal than he had supposed, with a dim vision of 
himself as the real proven donkey for not having been a 
harmless dash more so. But, to be just as well as pene- 
trating, this was only the effect of her personal charm on 
his nature. So it spurred him a moment, when it struck 
this doleful man that to have secured one kiss of those 
fresh and witty sparkling lips he would endure forfeits, 
pangs, anything save the hanging of his culprit's head 
before his Emma. Reflection washed him clean. Secresy 
is not a medical restorative, by no means a good thing for 
the baffled amorously-adventurous cavalier, unless the 
lady's character shall have been firmly established in or 
over his hazy wagging noddle. Reflection informed him 
that the honourable, generous, proud girl spared him 



HINTS OF DIANA'S EXPERIENCES 57 

for the sake of the house she loved. After a night of 
tossing, he rose right heartily repentant. He showed it 
in the best manner, not dramatically. On her accepting 
his offer to drive her down to the valley to meet the coach, 
a genuine illumination of pure gratitude made a better 
man of him, both to look at and in feeling. She did not 
hesitate to consent ; and he had half expected a refusal. 
She talked on the way quite as usual, cheerfully, if not 
altogether so spiritedly. A flash of her matchless wit now 
and then reduced him to that abject state of man beside 
the fair person he has treated high cavalierly, which one 
craves permission to describe as pulp. He was utterly 
beaten. 

The sight of Redworth on the valley road was a relief 
to them both. He had slept in one of the houses of the 
valley, and spoke of having had the intention to mount 
to Copsley. Sir Lukin proposed to drive him back. He 
glanced at Diana, still with that calculating abstract air 
of his; and he was rallied. He confessed to being ab- 
sorbed in railways, the new lines of railways projected 
to thread the land and fast mapping it. 

'You've not embarked money in them?' said Sir 
Lukin. 

The answer was : ' I have ; all I possess.' And Red- 
worth for a sharp instant set his eyes on Diana, indifferent 
to Sir Lukin's bellow of stupefaction at such gambling 
on the part of a prudent fellow. 

He asked her where she was to be met, where written to, 
during the Simamer, in case of his wishing to send her news. 

She replied : ' Copsley will be the surest. I am always 
in communication with Lady Dunstane.' She coloured 
deeply. The recollection of the change of her feeling for 
Copsley suffused her maiden mind. 

The strange blush prompted an impulse in Redworth 
to speak to her at once of his venture in railways. But 



58 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

what would she understand of them, as connected with 
the mighty stake he was playing for? He delayed. The 
coach came at a trot of the horses, admired by Sir Lukin, 
round a corner. She entered it, lier maid followed, the 
door banged, the horses trotted. She was off. 

Her destiny of the Crossways tied a knot, barred a gate, 
and pointed to a new direction of the road on that fine 
spring morning, when beech-buds were near the burst, 
cowslips yellowed the meadow-flats, and skylarks quivered 
upward. 

For many long years Redworth had in his memory, for 
a comment on procrastination and excessive scrupulous- 
ness in his calculating faculty, the blue back of a coach. 

He declined the vacated place beside Sir Lukin, 
promising to come and spend a couple of days at Copsley 
in a fortnight — Saturday week. He wanted, he said, to 
have a talk with Lady Dunstane. Evidently he had 
railways on the brain, and Sir Lukin warned his wife to 
be guarded against the speculative mania, and advise 
the man, if she could. 



CHAPTER V 

CONCERNING THE SCRUPULOUS GENTLEMAN WHO 
CAME TOO LATE 

On the Saturday of his appointment Redworth arrived at 
Copsley, with a shade deeper of the calculating look under 
his thick brows, habitual to him latterly. He found 
Lady Dunstane at her desk, pen in hand, the paper un- 
touched; and there was an appearance of trouble about 
her somewhat resembling his own, as he would have 
observed, had he been open-minded enough to notice 
anything, except that she was writing a letter. He 



THE SCRUPULOUS GENTLEMAN 59 

begged her to continue it; he proposed to read a book 
till she was at leisure. 

'I have to write, and scarcely know how,' said she, 
clearing her face to make the guest at home, and taking a 
chair by the fire, 'I would rather chat for half an hour.' 

She spoke of the weather, frosty, but tonic; bad for 
the last days of hunting, good for the farmer and the 
country, let us hope. 

Redworth nodded assent. It might be surmised that 
he was brooding over those railways, in which he had em- 
barked his fortune. Ah ! those railways ! She was not 
long coming to the waDfuI exclamation upon them, both 
to express her personal sorrow at the disfigurement of 
our dear England, and lead to a little, modest, offering of 
a woman's counsel to the rash adventurer; for thus 
could she serviceably put aside her perplexity awhile. 
Those railways ! When would there be peace in the 
land ? Where one single nook of shelter and escape from 
them ! And the English, blunt as their senses are to 
noise and hubbub, would be revelling in hisses, shrieks, 
puffings and screeches, so that travelling would become 
an intolerable affliction. 'I speak rather as an invalid,' 
she admitted; 'I conjure up all sorts of horrors, the 
whistle in the night beneath one's windows, and the smoke 
of trains defacing the landscape; hideous accidents too. 
They will be wholesale and past help. Imagine a col- 
lision! I have borne many changes with equanimity, 
I pretend to a certain degree of philosophy, but this 
mania for cutting up the land does really cause me to pity 
those who are to follow us. They will not see the England 
we have seen. It will be patched and scored, disfigured 
... a sort of barbarous Maori visage — England in a New 
Zealand mask. You may call it the sentimental view. 
In this case, I am decidedly sentimental: I love my 
country. I do love quiet, rural England. Well, and I 



60 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

love beauty, I love simplicity. All that will be destroyed 
by the refuse of the towns flooding the land — barring, 
accidents, as Lukin says. There seems nothing else to- 
save us.' 

Red worth acquiesced. 'Nothing.' 

'And you do not regret it?' he was asked. 

'Not a bit. We have already exchanged opinions on' 
the subject. Simplicity must go, and the townsman meet 
his equal in the countryman. As for beauty, I would 
sacrifice that to circulate gumption. A bushelful of 
nonsense is talked pro and con : it always is at an inno- 
vation. What we are now doing, is to take a longer and. 
a quicker stride, that is all.' 

'And establishing a new field for the speculator.' 

' Yes, and I am one, and this is the matter I wanted to* 
discuss with you, Lady Dunstane,' said Redworth, bend- 
ing forward, the whole man devoted to the point of 
business. 

She declared she was complimented; she felt the: 
compliment, and trusted her advice might be useful,, 
faintly remarking that she had a woman's head: and 
'not less' was implied as much as 'not more,' in order to 
give strength to her prospective opposition. 

All his money, she heard, was down on the railway 
table. He might within a year have a tolerable fortune :: 
and, of course, he might be ruined. He did not expect 
it; still he fronted the risks. 'And now,' said he, 'I 
come to you for counsel. I am not held among my 
acquaintances to be a marrying man, as it 's called.' 

He paused. Lady Dunstane thought it an occasion to> 
praise him for his considerateness. 

'You involve no one but yourself, you mean?' Her 
eyes shed approval. 'Still the day may come ... I 
say only that it may: and the wish to marry is a rosy 
colouring . . , equal to a flying chariot in conducting us. 



THE SCRUPULOUS GENTLEMAN 61 

across difficulties and obstructions to the deed. And 
then one may have to regret a previous rashness.' 

These practical men are sometimes obtuse : she dwelt 
on that vision of the future. 

He listened, and resumed : ' My view of marriage is, 
that no man should ask a woman to be his wife imless he 
is well able to support her. in the comforts, not to say 
luxuries, she is accustomed to.' His gaze had wandered 
to the desk; it fixed there. 'That is Miss Merlon's 
writing,' he said. 

'The letter?' said Lady Dunstane, and she stretched 
out her hand to press down a leaf of it. 'Yes ; it is from 
her.' 

'Is she quite well?' 

' I suppose she is. She does not speak of her health.' 

He looked pertinaciously in the direction of the letter, 
and it was not rightly mannered. That letter, of all 
others, was covert and sacred to the friend. It con- 
tained the weightiest of secrets. 

'I have not written to her,' said Redworth. 

He was astonishing: 'To whom? To Diana? You 
could very weU have done so, only I fancy she knows 
nothing, has never given a thought to railway stocks and 
shares ; she has a loathing for speculation.' 

'And speculators too, I dare say.' 

'It is extremely probable.' Lady Dimstane spoke 
with an emphasis, for the man liked Diana, and would 
be moved by the idea of forfeiting her esteem. 

'She might blame me if I did anything dishonourable.' 

'She certainly would.' 

'She will have no cause.' 

Lady Dunstane began to look, as at a cloud charged 
with remote explosions : and still for the moment she 
was unsuspecting. But it was a flitting moment. When 
he went on, and very singularly droning to her ear : 'The 



62 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

more a man loves a woman, the more he should be positive, 
before asking her, that she will not have to consent to a 
loss of position, and I would rather lose her than fail to 
give her all — ^not be sure, as far as a man can be sure, of 
giving her all I think she 's worthy of : then the cloud 
shot a lightning flash, and the doors of her understanding 
swung wide to the entry of a great wonderment. A shock 
of pain succeeded it. Her sympathy was roused so 
acutely that she slipped over the reflective rebuke she 
would have addressed to her silly delusion concerning 
his purpose in speaking of his affairs to a woman. 
Though he did not mention Diana by name, Diana was 
clearly the person. And why had he delayed to speak 
to her? — Because of this venture of his money to make 
' him a fortune, for the assurance of her future comfort ! 
) Here was the best of men for the girl, not displeasing to 
[her; a good, strong, trustworthy man, pleasant to hear 
md to see, only erring in being a trifle too scrupulous in 
[love : and a fortnight back she would have imagined he 
iad no chance; and now she knew that the chance was 
excellent in those days, with this revelation in Diana's 
letter, which said that all chance was over. 

'The courtship of a woman,' he droned away, 'is in 
my mind not fair to her until a man has to the full enough 
to sanction his asking her to marry him. And if he 
throws all he possesses on a stake ... to win her — give 
her what she has a right to claim, he ought. . . . Only 
at present the prospect seems good. ... He ought of 
course to wait. Well, the value of the stock I hold has 
doubled, and it increases. I am a careful watcher of the 
market. I have friends — brokers and railway Directors. 
I can rely on them.' 

'Pray,' interposed Lady Dunstane, 'specify — I am 
rather in a mist — the exact point upon which you do me 
the honour to consult me.' She ridiculed herself for 



THE SCRUPULOUS GENTLEMAN 63 

having imagined that such a man would come to consult 
her upon a point of business. 

'It is,' he replied, 'this: whether, as affairs now stand 
with me — I have an income from my office, and personal 
property . . . say between thirteen and fourteen hun- 
dred a year to start with — whether you think me justi- 
fied in asking a lady to share my lot?' 

'Why not? But will you name the lady?' 

'Then I may write at once? In your judgement . . . 
Yes, the lady. I have not named her. I had no right. 
Besides, the general question first, in fairness to the 
petitioner. You might reasonably stipulate for more 
for a friend. She could make a match, as you have 
said . . .'he muttered of 'brilliant,' and 'the highest'; 
and his humbleness of the honest man enamoured touched 
Lady Dunstane. She saw him now as the man of strength] 
that she would have selected from a thousand suitors tor 
guide her dear friend. J 

She caught at a straw : 'Tell me, it is not Diana?' 

'Diana Merion!' 

As soon as he had said it he perceived pity, and he drew 
himself tight for the stroke. ' She 's in love with some 
one?' 

'She is engaged.' 

He bore it well. He was a big-chested fellow, and that 
excruciating twist within of the revolution of the wheels of 
the brain snapping their course to grind the contrary to 
that of the heart, was revealed in one short lift and gasp, 
a compression of the tremendous change he underwent. 

'Why did you not speak before?' said Lady Dunstane. 
Her words were tremulous. 

'I should have had no justification.' 

'You might have won her !' She could have wept ; her 
sjmipathy and her self-condolence imder disappointment 
aj Diana's conduct joined to swell the feminine flood. 



64 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

The poor fellow's quick breathing and blinking re- 
minded her of cruelty in a retrospect. She generalized, 
to ease her spirit of regret, by hinting it without hurting : 
'Women really are not puppets. They are not so ex- 
cessively luxurious. It is good for young women in the 
early days of marriage to rough it a little.' She found 
herself droning, as he had done. 

He had ears for nothing but the fact. 

'Then I am too late !' 

,'I have heard it to-day.' 

' She is engaged ! Positively ? ' 

Lady Dunstane glanced backward at the letter on her 
desk. She had to answer the strangest of letters that 
had ever come to her, and it was from her dear Tony, the 
baldest intimation of the weightiest piece of intelligence 
which a woman can communicate to her heart's friend. 
The task of answering it was now doubled. 'I fear so, 
I fancy so,' she said, and she longed to cast eye over the 
letter again, to see if there might possibly be a loophole 
behind the lines. 

'Then I must make my mind up to it,' said Redworth. 
'I think I '11 take a walk.' 

She smiled kindly. 'It will be our secret.' 

' I thank you with all my heart. Lady Dunstane.' 

He was not a weaver of phrases in distress. His blunt 
reserve was eloquent of it to her, and she liked him the 
better; could have thanked him, too, for leaving her 
promptly. 

When she was alone she took in the contents of the 
letter at a hasty glimpse. It was of one paragraph, and 
fired its shot like a cannon with the muzzle at her breast : — 

'Mt own Emmy, — I have been asked in marriage by 
Mr. Warwick, and have accepted him. Signify your 
approval, for I have decided that it is the wisest thing a 



THE SCRUPULOUS GENTLEMAN 65 

waif can do. We are to live at The Crossways for four 
months of the year, so I shall have Dada in his best days 
and all my youngest dreams, my sunrise and morning dew, 
surrounding me ; my old home for my new one. I write 
in haste, to you first, burning to hear from you. Send 
your blessing to yours in life and death, through all 
transformations, 

'Tony.' 

That was all. Not a word of the lover about to be deco- 
rated with the title of husband. No confession of love, 
nor a single supplicating word to her friend, in excuse 
for the abrupt decision to so grave a step. Her previous 
description of him, as a 'gentlemanly official' in his 
appearance, conjured him up most distastefully. True, 
she might have made a more lamentable choice ; — ^a silly 
lordling, or a hero of scandals; but if a gentlemanly 
official was of stabler mould, he failed to harmonize quite 
so well with the idea of a creature like Tony. Perhaps 
Mr. Redworth also failed in something. Where was the 
man fitly to mate her! Mr. Redworth, however, was 
manly and trustworthy, of the finest Saxon type in build 
and in character. He had great qualities, and his excess 
of scrupulousness was most pitiable. 

She read : 'The wisest thing a waif can do.' It bore a 
sound of desperation. Avowedly Tony had accepted 
him without being in love. Or was she masking the 
passion? No : had it been a case of love, she would have 
written very differently to her friend. 

Lady Dunstane controlled the pricking of the woimd 
infficted by Diana's novel exercise in laconics where the 
fullest flow was due to tenderness, and despatched felici- 
tations upon the text of the initial line: 'Wonders are 
always happening.' She wrote to hide vexation beneath 
surprise , naturally betra)dng it. ' I must hope and pray 



66 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

that you have not been precipitate.' Her curiosity to 
inspect the happiest of men, the most genuine part of her 
letter, was expressed coldly. When she had finished the 
composition she perused it, and did not recognize herself 
in her language, though she had been so guarded to cover 
the wound her Tony dealt their friendship — in some degree 
injuring their sex. For it might now, after such an 
example, verily seem that women are incapable of a 
("translucent perfect confidence : — ^their impulses, caprices, 
■j desperations, tricks of concealment, trip a heart-whole 
Lfriendship. Well, to-morrow, if not to-day, the tripping 
may be expected ! Lady Dunstane resigned herself sadly 
to a lowered view of her Tony's character. This was her 
unconscious act of reprisal. Her brilliant beloved Tony, 
dazzling but in beauty and the gifted mind, stood as one 
essentially with the common order of women. She wished 
to be settled, Mr. Warwick proposed, and for the sake of 
living at The Crossways she accepted him — she, the lofty 
seorner of loveless marriages ! who had said — ^how many 
times ! that nothing save love excused it ! She degraded 
K their mutual high standard of womankind. Diana was in 
eclipse, full three parts. The bulk of the gentlemanly 
oflScial she had chosen obscured her. But I have written 
very carefully, thought Lady Dunstane, dropping her 
answer into the post-bag. She had, indeed, been so care- 
ful, that to cloak her feelings, she had written as another 
person. Women with otiose husbands have a task to 
preserve friendship. 

Redworth carried his burden through the frosty air at a 
pace to melt icicles in Greenland. He walked unthink- 
ingly, right ahead, to the red West, as he discovered when 
pausing to consult his watch. Time was left to return at 
the same pace and dress for dinner ; he swung round and 
picked up remembrances of sensations he had strewn by 
the way. She knew these woods ; he was walking in her 



THE SCRUPULOUS GENTLEMAN 67 

footprints; she was engaged to be married. Yes, his 
principle, never to ask a woman to marry him, never to 
court her, without bank-book assurance of his ability to 
support her in cordial comfort, was right. He maintained 
it, and owned himself a donkey for having stuck to it. 
Between him and his excellent principle there was war, 
without the slightest division. Warned of the danger of 
losing her, he would have done the same again, confessing 
himself donkey for his pains. The principle was right, 
because it was due to the woman. His rigid adherence to 
the principle set him belabouring his donkey-ribs, as the 
proper due to himself. For he might have had a chance, 
all through two Winters. The opportunities had been 
numberless. Here, in this beech wood ; near lihat thorn- 
bush ; on the juniper slope ; from the comer of chalk and 
sand in junction, to the corner of clay and chalk ; all the 
length of the wooded ridge he had reminders of her 
presence and his priceless chances : and still the standard 
of his conduct said No, while his heart bled. 

He felt that a chance had been. More sagacious than 
Lady Dunstane, from his not nursing a wound, he divined 
in the abruptness of Diana's resolution to accept a suitor, 
a sober reason, and a fitting one, for the wish that she 
might be settled. And had he spoken ! — ^If he had spoken 
to her, she might have given her hand to him, to a dis- 
honourable brute ! A blissful brute. But a worse than 
donkey. Yes, his principle was right, and he lashed with 
it, and prodded with it, drove himself out into the sour 
wilds where bachelordom crops noxious weeds without a 
hallowing luminary, and clung to it, bruised and bleeding 
though he was. 

The gentleness of Lady Dimstane soothed him during 
the term of a visit that was rather like purgatory sweet- 
ened by angelical tears. He was glad to go, wretched 
in. having gone. She diverted the incessant conflict 



t 



68 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

between his insubordinate self and his castigating, but 
avowedly sovereign, principle. Away from her, he was 
the victim of a flagellation so dire that it almost drove 
him to revolt against the lord he served, and somehow 
the many memories at Copsley kept him away. Sir Lukin, 
when speaking of Diana's 'engagement to that fellow 
Warwick,' exalted her with an extraordinary enthusiasm, 
exceedingly hard for the silly beast who had lost her to 
bear. For the present the place dearest to Redworth 
of all places on earth was unendurable. 

Meanwhile the value of railway investments rose in the 
market, fast as asparagus-heads for cutting: a circum- 
stance that added stings to reflection. Had he been only 
^' Va little bolder, a little less the fanatical devotee of his rule 
of masculine honour, less the slave to the letter of success. 
. . . But why reflect at all ? Here was a goodly income 
approaching, perhaps a seat in Parliament ; a station for 
the airing of his opinions — and a social status for the 
wife now denied to him. The wife was denied to him; 
he could conceive of no other. The tyrant-ridden, 
reticent, tenacious creature had thoroughly wedded her 
in mind ; her view of things had a throne beside his own, 
even in their differences. He perceived, agreeing or 
disagreeing, the motions of her brain, as he did with none 
other of women; and this it is which stamps character 
on her, divides her from them, upraises and enspheres. 
He declined to live with any other of the sex. 

Before he could hear of the sort of man Mr. Warwick 
was — a perpetual object of his quest — the bridal bells had 
rung, and Diana Antonia Merion lost her maiden name. 
She became the Mrs. Warwick of our footballing world. 

Why she married, she never told. Possibly, in amaze- 
ment at herself subsequently, she forgot the specific 
reason. That which weighs heavily in youth, and 
commits us to desperate action, will be a trifle under older 



THE COUPLE 69 

eyes, to blunter senses, a more enlightened understanding. 
Her friend Emma probed for the reason vainly. It was 
partly revealed to Redworth, by guess-work and a putting 
together of pieces, yet quite luminously, as it were by 
touch of tentacle-feelers — one evening that he passed 
with Sir Lukin Dunstane, when the lachrymose ex- 
dragoon and son of Idlesse, had rather more than dined. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE COUPLE 

Six months a married woman, Diana came to Copsley to 
introduce her husband. They had run over Italy : ' the 
Italian Peninsula,' she quoted him in a letter to Lady 
Dunstane : and were furnishing their London house. 
Her first letters from Italy appeared to have a little bloom 
of sentiment. Augustus was mentioned as liking this and 
that in the land of beauty. He patronized Art, and it 
was a pleasure to hear him speak upon pictures and 
sculptures; he knew a great deal about them. 'He is 
an authority.' Her humour soon began to play round 
the fortunate man, who did not seem, to the reader's 
mind, to bear so well a sentimental clothing. His pride 
was in being very English on the Continent, and Diana's 
instances of his lofty appreciations of the garden of Art 
and Nature, and statuesque walk through it, would have 
been more amusing if her friend could have harmonized 
her idea of the couple. A description of ' a bit of a wrangle 
between us' at Lucca, where an Italian post-master on 
a journey of inspection, claimed a share of their carriage 
and audaciously attempted entry, was laughable, but 
jarred. Would she some day lose her relish for ridicule. 



70 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

and see him at a distance ? He was generous, Diana said : 
she saw fine qualities in him. It might be that he was 
lavish on his bridal tour. She said he was unselfish, kind, 
affable with his equals; he was cordial to the acquaint- 
ances he met. Perhaps his worst fault was an affected 
superciliousness before the foreigner, not uncommon in 
those days. 'You are to know, dear Emmy, that we 
English are the aristocracy of Europeans.' Lady Dun- 
stane inclined to think we were; nevertheless, in the 
mouth of a 'gentlemanly official' the frigid arrogance 
added a stroke of caricature to his deportment. On the 
other hand, the reports of him gleaned by Sir Lukin 
sounded favourable. He was not taken to be preter- 
naturally stiff, nor bright, but a goodish sort of fellow; 
good horseman, good shot, good character. In short, the 
J average Englishman, excelling as a cavalier, a slayer, 
land an orderly subject. That was a somewhat elevated 
standard to the patriotic Emma. Only she would never 
have stipulated for an average to espouse Diana. Would 
he understand her, and value the best in her? Another 
and unanswered question was, how could she have conde- 
scended to wed with an average? There was trans- 
parently some secret not confided to her friend. 

He appeared. Lady Dunstane's. first impression of him 
recurred on his departure. Her unanswered question 
drummed at her ears, though she remembered that Tony's 
art in leading him out had moderated her rigidly judicial 
summary of the union during a greater part of the visit. 
But his requiring to be led out, was against him. Con- 
sidering the subjects, his talk was passable. The sub- 
jects treated of politics, pictures, Continental travel, our 
manufactures, our wealth and the reasons for it — excellent 
reasons well-weighed. He was handsome, as men go; 
rather tall, not too stout, precise in the modern fashion 
of his dress, and the pair of whiskers encasing a colourless 



THE COUPLE 71 

depression up to a long, thin, straight nose, and closed 
lips indicating an aperture. The contraction of his 
mouth expressed an intelligence in the attitude of the 
firmly negative. The lips opened to snule, the teeth 
were faultless; an effect was produced, if a cold one — 
the colder for the unparticipating northern eyes; eyes 
of that half cloud and blue, which make a kind of hueless 
grey, and are chiefly striking in an authoritative stare. 
Without contradicting, for he was exactly polite, his look 
signified a person conscious of being born to command : 
in fine, an aristocrat among the 'aristocracy of Euro- 
peans.' His differences of opinion were prefaced by a 
'Pardon me,' and pausing smile of the teeth; then a 
succinctly worded sentence or two, a perfect settlement 
of the dispute. He disliked argumentation. He said so, 
and Diana remarked it of him, speaking as a wife who 
merely noted a characteristic. Inside his boundary, he 
had neat phrases, opinions in packets. Beyond it, appar^ 
ently the world was void of any particular interest. Sir 
Lukin, whose boundary would have shown a narrower 
limitation had it been defined, stood no chance with him. 
Tory versus Whig, he tried a wrestle, and was thrown. 
They agreed on the topic of Wine. Mr. Warwick had a 
fine taste in wine. Their after-dinner sittings were 
devoted to this and the alliterative cognate theme, 
equally dear to the gallant ex-dragoon, from which it 
resulted that Lady Dunstane received satisfactory infor- 
mation in a man's judgement of him. 'Warwick is a 
clever fellow, and a thorough man of the world, I can tell 
you, Emmy.' Sir Lukin further observed that he was a 
gentlemanly fellow. 'A gentlemanly official!' Diana's 
primary dash of portraiture stuck to him, so true it was ! 
As for; her, she seemed to have forgotten it. Not only 
did she strive to show him to advantage by leading him 
out; she played second to him, subserviently, fondly; 



72 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

she quite submerged herself, content to be dull if he might 
shine; and her talk of her husband in her friend's blue- 
chamber boudoir of the golden stars, where they had 
discussed the world and taken counsel in her maiden days, 
implied admiration of his merits. He rode superbly : he 
knew Law : he was prepared for any position : he could 
speak really eloquently; she had heard him at a local 
meeting. And he loved the old Crossways almost as much 
as she did. 'He has promised me he will never ask me 
to sell it,' she said, with a simpleness that could hardly 
have been acted. 

When she was gone. Lady Dunstane thought she had 
worn a mask, in the natural manner of women trying to 
make the best of their choice ; and she excused her poor 
Tony for the artful presentation of him at her own cost. 
But she could not excuse her for having married the man. 
Her first and her final impression likened him to a house 
locked up and empty: — a London house conventionally 
furnished and decorated by the upholsterer, and empty of 
inhabitants. How a brilliant and beautiful girl could 
have committed this rashness, was the perplexing riddle : 
the knottier because the man was idle : and Diana had 
ambition; she despised and dreaded idleness in men. — 
Empty of inhabitants even to the ghost ! Both human 
and spiritual were wanting. The mind contemplating 
him became reflectively stagnant. 

I must not be unjust ! Lady Dunstane hastened to ex- 
claim, at a whisper that he had at least proved his appre- 
ciation of Tony ; whom he preferred to call Diana, as she 
gladly remembered : and the two were bound together for 
a moment warmly by her recollection of her beloved 
Tony's touching little petition: 'You will invite us 
again?' and then there had flashed in Tony's dear dark 
eyes the look of their old love drowning. They were not 
to be thought of separately. She admitted that the 



THE COUPLE 73 

introduction to a woman of her friend's husband is crucially 
trjdng to him : he may well show worse than he is. Yet 
his appreciation of Tony in espousing her, was rather 
marred by Sir Lukin's report of him as a desperate ad- 
mirer of beautiful woman. It might be for her beauty 
only, not for her spiritual qualities ! At present he did 
not seem aware of their existence. But, to be entirely 
just, she had hardly exhibited them or a sign of them 
during the first interview: and sitting with his hostess 
alone, he had seized the occasion to say, that he was the 
happiest of men. He said it with the nearest approach 
to fervour she had noticed. Perhaps the very fact of 
his not producing a highly favourable impression, should 
be set to plead on his behalf. Such as he was, he was him- 
self, no simulator. She longed for Mr. Redworth's report 
of him. 

Her compassion for Redworth's feelings when behold- 
ing the woman he loved another man's wife, did not soften 
the urgency of her iuj unction that he should go speedily, 
and see as much of them as he could. 'Because,' she 
gave her reason, 'I wish Diana to know she has not lost 
a single friend through her marriage, and is only one the 
richer.' 

Redworth buckled himself to the task. He belonged to 
the class of his coimtrymen who have a dungeon- vault for 
feelings that should not be suffered to cry abroad, and 
into this oubliette he cast them, letting them feed as they 
might, or perish. It was his heart down below, and in'no 
voluntary musings did he listen to it, to sustain the thing. 
Grimly lord of himself, he stood emotionless before the 
world. Some worthy fellows resemble him, and they 
are caUed deep-hearted. He was dungeon-deep. The 
prisoner underneath might clamour and leap; none 
heard him or knew of him ; nor did he ever view the day. 
J)iana's frank: 'Ah, Mr. Redworth, how glad I am to 



74 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

see you!' was met by the calmest formalism of the wish 
for her happiness. He became a guest at her London 
house, and his report of the domesticity there, and notably 
of the lord of the house, pleased Lady Dunstane more 
than her husband's. He saw the kind of man accurately, 
as far as men are to be seen on the surface ; and she could 
say assentingly, without anxiety: 'Yes, yes,' to his re- 
marks upon Mr. Warwick, indicative of a man of capable 
head in worldly affairs, commonplace beside his wife. 
The noble gentleman for Diana was yet unborn, they 
tacitly agreed. Meantime one must not put a mortal 
husband to the fiery ordeal of his wife's deserts, they 
agreed likewise. 'You may be sure she is a constant 
friend,' Lady Dunstane said for his comfort; and she 
reminded herself subsequently of a shade of disappoint- 
ment at his imperturbable rejoinder: 'I could calculate 
on it.' For though not at all desiring to witness the senti- 
mental fit, she wished to see that he held an image of Diana : 
— surely a woman to kindle poets and heroes, the princes 
of the race ; and it was a curious perversity that the two 
men she had moved were merely excellent, emotionless, 
ordinary men, with heads for business. Elsewhere, out 
of England, Diana Would have been a woman for a place 
in song, exalted to the skies. Here she had the destiny 
to inflame Mr. Redworth and Mr. Warwick, two railway 
Directors, bent upon scoring the country to the likeness 
of a child's lines of hop-scotch in a gravel-yard. 

As with all invalids, the pleasure of living backward 
was haunted by the tortures it evoked, and two years later 
she recalled this outcry against the Fates. She would 
then have prayed for Diana to inflame none but such men 
as those two. The original error was, of course, that rash 
and most inexplicable marriage, a step never alluded to by 
the driven victim of it. Lady Dunstane heard rumours of 
dissensions. Diana did not mention them. She spoke 



THE COUPLE 75 

of her husband as unlucky in railway ventures, and of a 
household necessity for money, nothing further. One day 
she wrote of a Government appointment her husband had 
received, ending the letter: 'So there is the end of our 
troubles.' Her friend rejoiced, and afterward looking 
back at her satisfaction, saw the dire beginning of 
them. 

Lord Dannisburgh's name, as one of the admirers of 
Mrs. Warwick, was dropped once or twice by Sir Lukin. 
He had dined with the Warwicks, and met the eminent 
member of the Cabinet at their table. There is no harm 
in admiration, especially on the part of one of a crowd 
observing a star. No harm can be imputed when the 
husband of a beautiful woman accepts an appointment 
from the potent Minister admiring her. So Lady Dun- 
stane thought, for she was sure of Diana to her inmost 
soul. But she soon perceived in Sir Lukin that the old 
Dog-world was preparing to yelp on a scent. He of his 
nature belonged to the hunting pack, and with a cordial 
feeling for the quarry, he was quite with his world in ex- 
pecting to see her run, and readiness to join the chase. 
No great scandal had occurred for several months. The 
■world was in want of it ; and he, too, with a very cordial 
feeling for the quarry, piously hoping she would escape, 
already had his nose to ground, collecting testimony in 
the track of her. He said little to his wife, but his world 
was getting so noisy that he could not help half pursing 
his lips, as with the soft whistle of an innuendo at the heels 
of it. Redworth was in America, engaged in carving up 
that hemisphere. She had no source of information but 
her husband's chance gossip ; and London was death to 
her; and Diana, writing faithfully twice a week, kept 
silence as to Lord Daimisburgh, except in naming him 
among her guests. She wrote this, which might have a 
secret personal signification: 'We women are the verbs 



76 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

passive of the alliance, we have to learn, and if we take 
to activity, with the best intentions, we conjugate a 
frightful disturbance. We are to run on lines, like the 
steam-trains, or we come to no station, dash to fragments. 
I have the misfortune to know I was born an active. I 
take my chance.' 

Once she coupled the names of Lord Larrian and Lord 
Darmisburgh, remarking that she had a fatal attraction 
for antiques. 

The death of her husband's uncle and illness of his aunt 
withdrew her to The Crossways, where she remained 
nursing for several months, reading diligently, as her 
letters showed, and watching the approaches of the de- 
stroyer. She wrote like her former self, subdued by 
meditation in the presence of that inevitable. The world 
ceased barking. Lady Dunstane could suppose Mr. 
Warwick to have now a reconciling experience of his 
wife's noble qualities. He probably did value them 
more. He spoke of her to Sir Lukin in London with 
commendation. 'She is an attentive nurse.' He in- 
herited a considerable increase of income when he and 
his wife were the sole tenants of The Crossways, but dis- 
liking the house, for reasons hard to explain by a man 
previously professing to share her attachment to it, he 
wished to sell or let the place, and his wife would do 
neither. She proposed to continue living in their small 
London house rather than be cut off from The Crossways, 
which, he said, was ludicrous : people should live up to 
their position; and he sneered at the place, and slightly 
wounded her, for she was open to a wound when the cold 
fire of a renewed attempt at warmth between them was 
crackling and showing bits of flame, after she had given 
proof of her power to serve. Service to himself and his 
relatives affected him. He deferred to her craze for The 
Crossways, and they lived in a larger London house, ' up 



THE COUPLE 77 

to their position,' which means ever a trifle beyond it, 
and gave choice dinner-parties to the most eminent. 
His jealousy slumbered. Having ideas of a seat in 
Parliament at this period, and preferment superior to the 
post he held, Mr. Warwick deemed it sagacious to court 
the potent patron Lord Dannisburgh could be; and his 
wife had his interests at heart, the fork-tongued world 
said. The cry revived. Stories of Lord D. and Mrs. W. 
whipped the hot pursuit. The moral repute of the great 
Whig lord and the beauty of the lady composed in- 
flammable material. 

'Are you altogether cautious?' Lady Dunstane wrote 
to Diana; and her friend sent a copious reply: 'You 
have the fullest right to ask your Tony anything, and I 
will answer as at the Judgement bar. You allude to Lord 
Dannisburgh. He is near what Dada's age would have 
been, and is, I think I can affirm, next to my dead father 
and my Emmy, my dearest friend. I love him. I could 
say it in the streets without shame; and you do not 
imagine me shameless. Whatever his character in his 
younger days, he can be honestly a woman's friend, 
believe me. I see straight to his heart; he has no dis- 
guise ; and unless I am to suppose that marriage is the 
end of me, I must keep him among my treasures. I see 
him almost daily; it is not possible to think I can be 
deceived; and as long as he does me the honour to 
esteem my poor portion of brains by coming to me for 
what he is good enough to call my counsel, I shall let 
the world wag its tongue. Between ourselves, I trust 
to be doing some good. I know I am of use in various 
ways. No doubt there is a danger of a woman's head 
being turned, when she reflects that a powerful Minister 
governing a kingdom has not considered her too in- 
significant to advise him ; and I am sensible of it. I am, 
I assure you, dearest, on my guard against it. That 



78 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

would not attach me to him, as his homely friendliness 
does. He is the most amiable, cheerful, benignant of 
men; he has no feeling of an enemy, though naturally 
his enemies are numerous and venomous. He is full of 
observation and humour. How he would amuse you I 
In many respects accord with you. And I should not 
have a spark of jealousy. Some day I shall beg per- 
mission to bring him to Copsley. At present, during 
the Session, he is too busy, as you know. Me-^his 
"crystal spring of wisdom" — ^he can favour with no more 
than an hour in the afternoon, or a few minutes at night. 
Or I get a pencilled note from the benches of the House, 
with an anecdote, or news of a Division. I am sure to 
be enlivened. 

' So I have written to you fully, simply, frankly. Have 
perfect faith in your Tony, who would, she vows to 
heaven, die rather than disturb it and her heart's 
beloved.' 

The letter terminated with one of Lord Dannisburgh's 
anecdotes, exciting to merriment in the season of its 
freshness; — and a postscript of information: 'Augustus 
expects a mission — about a month; uncertain whether 
I accompany him.' 

Mr. Warwick departed on his mission. Diana remained 
in London. Lady Dunstane wrote entreating her to pass 
the month — ^her favourite time of the violet yielding to 
the cowslip — at Copsley. The invitation could not be 
accepted, but the next day Diana sent word that she 
had a surprise for the following Sunday, and would bring 
a friend to lunch, if Sir Lukin would meet them at the 
corner of the road in the valley leading up to the heights, 
at a stated hour. 

Lady Dunstane gave the listless baronet his directions, 
observing: 'It's odd, she never will come alone since 
her marriage.' 



THE CRISIS 79 

'Queer,' said he of the serenest absence of conscience; 
and that there must be something not entirely right going 
on, he strongly inclined to think. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE CEISIS 

It was a confirmed suspicion when he beheld Lord 
Dannisburgh on the box of a four-in-hand, and the peer- 
less Diana beside him, cockaded lackeys in plain livery 
and the lady's maid to the rear. But Lord Dannisburgh's 
visit was a compliment, and the freak of his driving down 
under the beams of Aurora on a sober Simday morning 
capital fun ; so with a gaiety that was kept alive for the 
invalid Emma to partake of it, they rattled away to the 
heights, and climbed them, and Diana rushed to the arms 
of her friend, whispering and cooing for pardon if she 
startled her, guilty of a little whiff of blarney : — Lord 
Dannisburgh wanted so much to be introduced to her, 
and she so much wanted her to know him, and she hoped 
to be graciously excused for thus bringing them together, 
'that she might be chorus to them!' Chorus was a 
pretty fiction on the part of the thrilling and topping 
voice. She was the very radiant Diana of her earliest 
opening day, both in look and speech, a queenly comrade, 
and a spirit leaping and shining like a mountain water. 
She did not seduce, she ravished. The judgement was 
taken captive and flowed with her. As to the prank of 
the visit, Emma heartily enjoyed it and hugged it for a 
holiday of her own, and doating on the beautiful, dark- 
eyed, fresh creature, who bore the name of the divine 
Huntress, she thought her a true Dian in stature, step, and 
attributes, the genius of laughter superadded. None 



80 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

else on earth so sweetly laughed, none so spontaneously, 
victoriously provoked the healthful openness. Her 
delicious chatter, and her museful sparkle in listening, 
equally quickened every sense of life. Adorable as she 
was to her friend Emma at all times, she that day struck 
a new fountain in memory. And it was pleasant to see 
the great lord's admiration of this wonder. One could 
firmly believe in their friendship, and his winning ideas 
from the abounding bubbling well. A recurrent smile 
beamed on his face when hearing and observing her. 
Certain dishes provided at the table were Diana's favour- 
ites, and he relished them, asking for a second help, and 
remarking that her taste was good in that as in all things. 
They lunched, eating like boys. They walked over the 
grounds of Copsley, and into the lanes and across the 
meadows of the cowslip, rattling, chatting, enlivening 
the frosty air, happy as children biting to the juices of 
ripe apples off the tree. But Tony was the tree, the 
dispenser of the rosy gifts. She had a moment of re- 
flection, only a moment, and Emma felt the pause as 
though a cloud had shadowed them and a spirit had been 
shut away. Both spoke of their happiness at the kiss of 
parting. That melancholy note at the top of the wave to 
human hearts conscious of its enforced decline was re- 
peated by them, and Diana's eyelids blinked to dismiss 
a tear. 

'You have no troubles?' Emma said. 

'Only the pain of the good-bye to my beloved,' said 
Diana. 'I have never been happier — never shall be! 
Now you know him you think with me? I knew you 
would. You have seen him as he always is — except when 
he is armed for battle. He is the kindest of souls. And 
soul I say. He is the one man among men who gives me 
notions of a soul in men.' 

The eulogy was exalted. Lady Dunstane made a little 



THE CRISIS 81 

mouth for Oh, in correction of the transcendental touch, 
though she remembered their foregone conversations upon 
men — strange beings that they are! — and understood 
Diana's meaning. 

'Really! really! honour!' Diana emphasized her ex- 
travagant praise, to print it fast. 'Hear him speak of 
Ireland.' 

'Would he not speak of Ireland in a tone to catch 
the Irishwoman?' 

' He is past thoughts of catching, dearest. At that age 
men are pools of fish, or what you will : they are not 
anglers. Next year, if you invite us, we wiU come again.' 

'But you will come to stay in the Winter?' 

' Certainly. But I am speaking of one of my holidays.' 

They kissed fervently. The lady mounted; the grey 
and portly lord followed her; Sir Lukin flourished his 
whip, and Emma was left to brood over her friend's 
last words: 'One of my holidays.' Not a hint to the 
detriment of her husband had passed. The stray beam 
balefully illuminating her marriage slipped from her 
involuntarily. Sir Lukin was troublesome with his 
ejaculations that evening, and kept speculating on the 
time of the arrival of the four-in-hand in London ; upon 
which he thought a great deal depended. They had 
driven out of town early, and if they drove back late they 
would not be seen, as all the cacklers were sure then to 
be dressing for dinner, and he would not pass the Clubs. 
'I couldn't suggest it,' he said. 'But Dannisburgh's 
an old hand. But they say he snaps his fingers at tattle, 
and laughs. Well, it doesn't matter for him, perhaps, but 
a game of two. ... Oh ! it '11 be all right. They can't 
reach London before dusk. And the cat 's away.' 

' It 's more than ever incomprehensible to me how she 
could have married that man,' said his wife. 

il 've long since given it up,' said he. 



82 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Diana wrote her thanks for the delightful welcome, 
telling of her drive home to smoke and solitude, with a 
new host of romantic sensations to keep her company. 
She wrote thrice in the week, and the same addition of one 
to the ordinary number next week. Then for three 
weeks not a line. Sir Lukin brought news from London 
that Warwick had returned, nothing to explain the 
silence. A letter addressed to The Crossways was like- 
wise unnoticed. The supposition that they must be 
visiting on a round, appeared rational ; but many weeks 
elapsed, until Sir Lukin received a printed sheet in the 
superscription of a former military comrade, who had 
marked a paragraph. It was one of those journals, now 
barely credible, dedicated to the putrid of the upper circle, 
wherein initials raised sewer-lamps, and Asmodeus lifted 
a roof, leering hideously. Thousands detested it, and 
fattened their crops on it. Domesticated beasts of 
superior habits to the common will indulge themselves 
with a luxurious roll in carrion, for a revival of their 
original instincts. Society was largely a purchaser. The 
ghastly thing was dreaded as a scourge, hailed as a re- 
freshment, nourished as a parasite. It professed un- 
daunted honesty, and operated in the fashion of the 
worms bred of decay. Success was its boasted justi- 
fication. The animal world, when not rigorously watched, 
will always crown with success the machine supplying its 
appetites. The old dog-world took signal from it. The 
one-legged devil-god waved his wooden hoof, and the 
creatures in view, the hunt was uproarious. Why should 
we seem better than we are? — down with hypocrisy, 
cried the censor morum, spicing the lamentable dere- 
lictions of this and that great person, male and female. 
The plea of corruption of blood in the world, to excuse 
the public chafing of a grievous itch, is not less old than 
sin ; and it offers a merry day of frisky truant running to 



THE CRISIS 83 

the animal made imashamed by another and another 
stripped, branded, and stretched flat. Sir Lukin read 
of Mr. and Mrs. W. and a distinguished Peer of the realm. 
The paragraph was brief; it had a flavour. Promise of 
more to come, pricked curiosity. He read it enraged, 
feeling for his wife; and again indignant, feeling for 
Diana. His third reading found him out: he felt for 
both, but as a member of the whispering world, much 
behind the scenes, he had a longing for the promised 
insinuations, just to know what they could say, or dared 
say. The paper was not shown to Lady Dunstane. A 
run to London put him in the tide of the broken dam of 
gossip. The names were openly spoken and swept from 
mouth to mouth of the scandalmongers, gathering 
matter as they flew. He knocked at Diana's door, where 
he was informed that the mistress of the house was absent. 
More than official gravity accompanied the announcement. 
Her address was unknown. Sir Lukin thought it now 
time to tell his wife. He began with a hesitating circum- 
locution, in order to prepare her mind for bad news. She 
divined immediately that it concerned Diana, and forcing 
him to speak to the point, she had the story jerked out 
to her in a sentence. It stopped her heart. 

The chill of death was tasted in that wavering ascent 
from oblivion to recollection. Why had not Diana come 
to her, she asked herself, and asked her husband; who, 
as usual, was absolutely unable to say. Under compul- 
sory squeezing, he would have answered, that she did 
not come because she could not fib so easily to her bosom 
friend: and this he thought, notwithstanding his per- 
sonal experience of Diana's generosity. But he had 
other personal experiences of her sex, and her sex plucked 
at the bright star and drowned it. 

The happy day of Lord Dannisburgh's visit settled in 
, . Emma's belief as the cause of Mr. Warwick's unpardon- 



84 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

able suspicions and cruelty. Arguing from her own 
sensations of a day that had been like the return of sweet 
health to her frame, she could see nothing but the love- 
liest freakish innocence in Diana's conduct, and she re- 
called her looks, her words, every fleeting gesture, even 
to the ingenuousness of the noble statesman's admiration 
of her, for the confusion of her unmanly and unworthy 
husband. And Emma was nevertheless a thoughtful 
person ; only her heart was at the head of her thoughts, 
and led the file, whose reasoning was accurate on erratic 
tracks. All night her heart went at fever pace. She 
brought the repentant husband to his knees, and then 
doubted, strongly doubted, whether she would, whether 
in consideration for her friend she could, intercede with 
Diana to forgive him. In the morning she slept heavily. 
Sir Lukin had gone to London early for further tidings. 
She awoke about midday, and found a letter on her 
pillow. It was Diana's. Then while her fingers eagerly 
tore it open, her heart, the champion rider over-night, 
sank. It needed support of facts, and feared them : not 
in distrust of that dear persecuted soul, but because the 
very bravest of hearts is of its nature a shivering defender, 
sensitive in the presence of any hostile array, much crav- 
ing for material support, untU the mind and spirit dis- 
place it, depute it to second them instead of leading. 

She read by a dull November fog-light a mixture of the 
dreadful and the comforting, and dwelt upon the latter in 
abandonment, hugged it, though conscious of evil and 
the little that there was to veritably console. 

The close of the letter struck the blow. After bluntly 
stating that Mr. Warwick had served her with a process, 
and that he had no case without suborning witnesses, 
Diana said : 'But I leave the case, and him, to the world. 
Ireland, or else America, it is a guiltless kind of suicide to 
bury myself abroad. He has my letters. They are such 



THE CRISIS 85 

as I can own to you, and ask you to kiss me — and kiss 
me when you have heard aU the evidence, all that I can 
add to it, Mss me. You know me too well to think I 
would ask you to kiss criminal lips. But I cannot face 
the world. In the dock, yes. Not where I am expected 
to smile and sparkle, on pain of incurring suspicion if 
I show a sign of oppression. I cannot do that. I see 
myself wearing a false grin — your Tony ! No, I do well 
to go. This is my resolution; and in consequence, my 
beloved ! my only truly loved on earth ! I do not come 
to you, to grieve you, as I surely should. Nor would 
it soothe me, dearest. This will be to you the best of 
reasons. It could not soothe me to see myself giving 
pain to Emma. I am like a pestilence, and let me swing 
away to the desert, for there I do no harm. I know I 
am right. I have questioned myself — it is not cowardice. 
I do not quail. I abhor the part of actress. I should do 
it well — too well; destroy my soul in the performance. 
Is a good name before such a world as this worth that 
sacrifice? A convent and self-quenching; — cloisters 
would seem to me like holy dew. But that would be 
sleep, and I feel the powers of life. Never have I felt them 
so mightily. If it were not for being called on to act and 
mew, I would stay, fight, meet a bayonet-hedge of charges 
and rebut them. I have my natural weapons and my 
cause. It must be confessed that I have also more knowl- 
edge of men and the secret contempt — ^it must be — the 
best of them entertain for us. Oh! and we confirm it 
if we trust them. But they have been at a wicked school. 

'I wUl write. From whatever place, you shall have 
letters, and constant. I write no more now. In my 
present mood I find no alternative between rageing and 
drivelling. I am henceforth dead to the world. Never 
dead to Emma till my breath is gone — poor flame! I 



86 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

blow at a bed-room candle, by which I write in a brown 
fog, and behold what I am — though not even serving to 
write such a tangled scrawl as this. I am of no mortal 
service. In two days I shall be out of England. Within 
a week you shall hear where. I long for your heart on 
mine, your dear eyes. You have faith in me, and I fly 
from you ! — I must be mad. Yet I feel calmly reasonable. 
I know that this is the thing to do. Some years hence 
a grey woman may return, to hear of a butterfly Diana, 
that had her day and disappeared. Better than a mew- 
ing and courtseying simulacrum of the woman — I drivel 
again. Adieu. I suppose I am not liable to capture 
and imprisonment until the day when my name is cited 
to appear. I have left London. This letter and I quit 
the scene by different routes — I would they were one. 
My beloved! I have an ache — I think I am wronging 
you. I am not mistress of myself, and do as something 
within me, wiser than I, dictates. — You will write kindly. 
Write your whole heart. It is not compassion I want, I 
want you. I can bear stripes from you. Let me hear 
Emma's voice — the true voice. This running away 
merits your reproaches. It will look like — . I have more 
to confess : the tigress in me wishes it were ! I should 
then have a reckless passion to fold me about, and the 
glory — infernal, if you name it so, and so it would be — 
of suffering for and with some one else. As it is, I am 
utterly solitary, sustained neither from above nor below, 
except within myself, and that is all fire and smoke, like 
their new engines. — I kiss this miserable sheet of paper. — 
Yes, I judge that I have run off a line — and what a line ! — 
which hardly shows a trace for breathing things to follow 
until they feel the transgression in wreck. How im- 
mensely nature seems to prefer men to women! — But 
this paper is happier than the writer. 

'Your Tony.' 



THE CRISIS 87 

That was the end. Emma kissed it in tears. They had 
often talked of the possibility of a classic friendship 
between women, the alliance of a mutual devotedness 
men choose to doubt of. She caught herseK accusing 
Tony of the lapse from friendship. Hither should the 
true friend have flown unerringly. 

The blunt ending of the letter likewise dealt a wound. 
She reperused it, perused and meditated. The flight of 
Mrs. Warwick ! She heard that cry — fatal ! But she 
had no means of putting a hand on her. — 'Your Tony.' 
The coldness might be set down to exhaustion : it might, 
yet her not coming to her friend for coimsel and love was 
a positive weight in the indifferent scale. She read the 
letter backwards, and by snatches here and there ; many 
perusals and hours passed before the scattered creature 
exhibited in its pages came to her out of the flsdng threads 
of the web as her living Tony, whom she loved and prized 
and was ready to defend gainst the world. By that time 
the fog had lifted; she saw the sky on the borders of 
milky cloudfolds. Her invalid's chill sensitiveness con- 
ceived a sympathy in the baring heavens, and lying on 
her sofa in the drawing-room she gained strength of 
meditative vision, weak though she was to help, through 
ceasing to brood on her wound and herself. She cast 
herself into her dear Tony's feelings ; and thus it came, 
that she imagined Tony would visit The Crossways, 
where she kept souvenirs of her father, his cane, and his 
writing-desk, and a precious miniature of him hanging 
above it, before leaving England forever. The fancy 
sprang to certainty; every speculation confirmed it. 
Had Sir Lukin been at home she would have despatched 
him to The Crossways at once. The West wind blew, 
and gave her a view of the Downs beyond the weald 
from her southern window. She thought it even possible 
to drive there and reach the place, on the chance of her 



88 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

vivid suggestion, some time after nightfall; but a walk 
across the room to try her forces was too convincing of her 
inability. She walked with an ebony silver-mounted 
stick, a present from Mr. Redworth. She was leaning on 
it when the card of Thomas Redworth was handed to her. 



CHAPTER VIII 

IN WHICH IS EXHIBITED HOW A PRACTICAL MAN AND A 
DIVINING WOMAN LEAKN TO EESPBCT ONE ANOTHER 

'You see, you are my crutch,' Lady Dunstane said to 
him, raising the stick in reminder of the present. 

He offered his arm and hurriedly informed her, to 
dispose of dull personal matter, that he had just landed. 
She looked at the clock. ' Lukin is in town. You know 
the song: "Alas, I scarce can go or creep While Lukin 
is away." I do not doubt you have succeeded in your 
business over there. Ah! Now I suppose you have 
confidence in your success. I should have predicted it, 
had you come to me.' She stood, either musing or in 
weakness, and said abruptly: 'Will you object to lunch- 
ing at one o'clock?' 

'The sooner the better,' said Redworth. She had 
sighed: her voice betrayed some agitation, strange in 
so serenely-minded a person. 

His partial acquaintance with the Herculean Sir Lukin's 
reputation in town inspired a fear of his being about to 
receive admission to the distressful confidences of the 
wife, and he asked if Mrs. Warwick was well. The 
answer sounded ominous, with its accompaniment of 
evident pain : 'I think her health is good.' 

Had they quarrelled? He said he had not heard a 
word of Mrs. Warwick for several months. 



PRACTICAL MAN AND DIVINING WOMAN 89 

'I heard from her this morning,' said Lady Dunstane, 
and motioned him to a chair beside the sofa, where she 
half reclined, closing her eyes. The sight of tears on the 
eyelashes frightened him. She roused herself to look at 
the clock. 'Providence or accident, you are here,' she 
said. 'I could not have prayed for the coming of a truer 
man. Mrs. Warwick is in great danger. . . . You know 
ou; love. She is the best of me, heart and soul. Her 
husband has chosen to act on vUe suspicions — baseless, I 
could hold my hand in the fire and swear. She has 
enemies, or the jealous fury is on the man — ^I know little 
of him. He has commenced an action against her. He 
will rue it. But she . . . you understand this of women 
at least ; — ^they are not cowards in all things ! — but the 
horror of facing a public scandal: — ^my poor girl writes 
of the hatefulness of having to act the complacent — put 
on her accustomed self ! She would have to go about, a 
mark for the talkers, and behave as if nothing were in the 
air — ^full of darts ! Oh, that general whisper ! — ^it makes 
a coup de massue — a gale to sink the bravest vessel : — 
and a woman must preserve her smoothest front; chat, 
snule — or else! — ^Well, she shrinks from it. I should 
too. She is leaving the coimtry.' 

'Wrong!' cried Redworth. 

'Wrong indeed. She writes, that in two days she will 
be out of it. Judge her as I do, though you are a man, I 
pray. You have seen the hunted hare. It is our edu- 
cation — we have something of the hare in us when the 
hounds are full cry. Our bravest, our best, have an im- 
pulse to run. "By this, poor Wat far off upon a hill." 
Shakespeare would have the divine comprehension. I 
have thought aU round it and come back to him. She is; 
one of Shakespeare's women : another character, but onef 
of his own : — another Hermione ! I dream of him — see-^ 
ing her with that eye of steady flame. The bravest and 



90 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

best of us at bay in the world need an eye like his, to read 
deep and not be baffled by inconsistencies.' 

Insensibly Redworth blinked. His consciousness of an 
exalted compassion for the lady was heated by these 
flights of advocacy to feel that he was almost seated 
beside the sovereign poet thus eulogized, and he was of a 
modest nature. 

'But you are practical,' pursued Lady Dunstane, ob- 
serving signs that she took for impatience. 'You are 
thinking of what can be done. If Lukin were here I 
would send him to The Crossways without a moment's 
delay, on the chance, the mere chance : — it shines to me ! 
If I were only a little stronger! I fear I might break 
down, and it would be unfair to my husband. He has 
trouble enough with my premature infirmities already. I 
am certain she will go to The Crossways. Tony is one of 
the women who burn to give last kisses to things they 
love. And she has her little treasures hoarded there. 
She was born there. Her father died there. She is three 
parts Irish — superstitious in affection. I know her so 
well. At this moment I see her there. If not, she has 
grown unlike herself.' 

'Have you a stout horse in the stables?' Redworth 
asked. 

'You remember the mare Bertha ; you have ridden her.' 

'The mare would do, and better than a dozen horses.' 
He consulted his watch. 'Let me mount Bertha, I en- 
gage to deliver a letter at The Crossways to-night.' 

Lady Dunstane half inclined to act hesitation in accept- 
ing the aid she sought, but said: 'Will you find your 
way?' 

He spoke of three hours of daylight and a moon to rise. 
'She has often pointed out to me from your ridges where 
The Crossways lies, about three miles from the Downs, 
near a village named Storling, on the road to Brasted. 



PRACTICAL MAN AND DIVINING WOMAN 91 

The house has a small plantation of firs behind it, and 
a bit of river — rare for Sussex — ^to the right. An old 
straggling red brick house at Crossways, a stone's throw 
from a fingerpost on a square of green : roads to Brasted, 
London, Wickford, Riddlehurst. I shall find it. Write 
what you have to say, my lady, and confide it to me. She 
shall have it to-night, if she 's where you suppose. I '11 
go, with your permission, and take a look at the mare. 
Sussex roads are heavy in this damp weather, and the 
frost coming on won't improve them for a tired beast. We 
haven't our rails laid down there yet.' 

'You make me admit some virtues in the practical,' 
said Lady Dunstane; and had the poor fellow vollied 
forth a tale of the everlastingness of his passion for Diana, 
it would have touched her far less than his exact memory 
of Diana's description of her loved birthplace. 

She wrote : 

'I trust my messenger to tell you how I hang on you. 
I see my ship making for the rocks. You break your 
Emma's heart. It wDl be the second wrong step. I shall 
not survive it. The threat has made me incapable of 
rushing to you, as I might have had strength to do yester- 
day. I am shattered, and I wait panting for Mr. Red- 
worth's return vxith you. He has called, by accident, as 
we say. Trust to him. If ever heaven was active to 
avert a fatal mischance it is to-day. You will not stand 
against my supplication. It is my life I cry for. I have 
no more time. He starts. He leaves me to pray — ^like 
the mother seeing her child on the edge of the cliff. Come. 
This is your breast, my Tony ! And your soul warns you 
it is right to come. Do rightly. Scorn other counsel — 
the coward's. Come with our friend — ^the one man 
known to me who can be a friend of women. 

'Your Emma.' 



92 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Redworth was in the room. ' The mare '11 do it well/ 
he said. 'She has had her feed, and in five minutes will, 
be saddled at the door.' 

'But you must eat, dear friend,' said the hostess. 

'I '11 munch at a packet of sandwiches on the way. There 
seems a chance, and the time for lunching may miss it.' 

'You understand . . . ?' 

'Everything, I fancy.' 

'If she is there!' 

' One break in the run will turn her back.' 

The sensitive invalid felt a blow in his following up 
the simile of the hunted hare for her friend, but it had a 
promise of hopefulness. And this was all that could be 
done by earthly agents, under direction of spiritual, as 
her imagination encouraged her to believe. 

She saw him start, after fortifying him with a tumbler 
of choice Bordeaux, thinking how Tony would have said 
she was like a lady arming her knight for battle. On the 
back of the mare he passed her window, after lifting his 
hat, and he thumped at his breast-pocket, to show her 
where the letter housed safely. The packet of provision 
; bulged on his hip, absurdly and blessedly to her sight, not 
) unlike the man, in his combination of robust serviceable- 
equalities, as she reflected during the later hours, until the 
/sun fell on smouldering November woods, and sensations 
of the frost he foretold bade her remember that he had 
gone forth riding like a huntsman. His great-coat lay 
on a chair in the hall, and his travelling-bag was beside it. 
He had carried it up from the valley, expecting hos- 
pitality, and she had sent him forth half naked to weather 
a frosty November night ! She called in the groom, 
whose derision of a great-coat for any gentleman upon 
Bertha, meaning work for the mare, appeased her remorse- 
fulness. Brisby, the groom, reckoned how long the mare 
would take to do the distance to Storling, with a rider like 



PRACTICAL MAN AND DIVINING WOMAN 93 

Mr. Redworth on her back. By seven, Brisby calcu- 
lated, Mr. Redworth would be knocking at the door of the 
Three Ravens Inn, at Sterling, when the naare would have 
a decent grooming, and Mr. Redworth was not the gentle- 
man to let her be fed out of his eye. More than that, 
Brisby had some acquaintance with the people of the inn. 
He begged to inform her ladyship that he was half a 
Sussex man, though not exactly born in the county ; his 
parents had removed to Sussex after the great event ; and 
the Downs were his first field of horse-exercise, and no 
place in the world was like them, fair weather or foul. 
Summer or Winter, and snow ten feet deep in the gullies. 
The grandest air in England, he had heard say. 

His mistress kept him to the discourse, for the comfort 
of hearing hard bald matter-of-fact ; and she was amused 
and rebuked by his assumption that she must be enter- 
taining an anxiety about master's favourite mare. But, 
ah ! that Diana had delayed in choosing a mate ; had 
avoided her disastrous union with perhaps a more im- 
posing man, to see the true beauty of masculine character 
in Mr. Redworth, as he showed himself to-day. How 
could he have doubted succeeding? One grain more of 
faith in his energy, and Diana might have been mated to 
the right husband for her — an open-minded clear-faced 
English gentleman. Her speculative ethereal mind 
clung to bald matter-of-fact to-day. She would have 
vowed that it was the sole potentially heroical. Even 
Brisby partook of the reflected rays, and he was very 
benevolently considered by her. She dismissed him only 
when his recounting of the stages of Bertha's journey 
began to fatigue her and deaden the medical efficacy of 
him and his like. Stretched on the sofa, she watched 
the early sinking sun in South-western cloud, and the 
changes from saffron to intensest crimson, the crown of a 
November evening, and one of frost. 



94 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Redworth struck on a southward line from chalk-ridge to 
sand, where he had a pleasant footing in familiar country, 
under beeches that browned the ways, along beside a 
meadow-brook fed by the heights, through pines and across 
deep sand-ruts to full view of weald and Downs. Diana 
had been with him here in her maiden days. The coloured 
back of a coach put an end to that dream. He lightened 
his pocket, surveying the land as he munched. A favour- 
able land for rails : and she had looked over it : and he 
was now becoming a wealthy man : and she was a married 
woman straining the leash. His errand would not bear 
examination, it seemed such a desperate long shot. He 
shut his inner vision on it, and pricked forward. When 
the burning sunset shot waves above the juniper and yews 
behind him, he was far on the weald, trotting down an 
interminable road. That the people opposing railways 
were not people of . business, was his reflection, and it 
returned persistently : for practical men, even the most 
devoted among them, will think for themselves; their 
army, which is the rational, calls them to its banners, in 
opposition to the sentimental ; and Redworth joined it in 
the abstract, summoning the horrible state of the roads 
to testify against an enemy wanting almost in common 
humaneness. A slip of his excellent stepper in one of the 
half-frozen pits of the highway was the principal cause of 
his confusion of logic; she was half on her knees. Be- 
yond the market town the roads were so bad that he 
quitted them, and with the indifference of an engineer, 
struck a line of his own South-eastward over fields and 
ditches, favoured by a round horizon moon on his left. 
So for a couple of hours he went ahead over rolling fallow 
land to the meadow-flats and a pale shining of freshets; 
then hit on a lane skirting the water, and reached an 
amphibious village; five miles from Sterling, he was in- 
formed, and a clear traverse of lanes, not to be mistaken, 



PRACTICAL MAN AND DIVINING WOMAN 95 

'if he kept a sharp eye open.' The sharpness of his eyes 
was divided between the sword-belt of the starry Hunter 
and the shifting lanes that zig-zagged his course below. 
The Downs were softly illumined; still it amazed him 
to think of a woman like Diana Warwick having an at- 
tachment to this district, so hard of yield, mucky, feature- 
less, fit but for the rails she sided with her friend in 
detesting. Reasonable women, too ! The moon stood 
high on her march as he entered Sterling. He led his 
good beast to the stables of The Three Ravens, thanking 
her and caressing her. The ostler conjectured from the 
look of the mare that he had been out with the hoimds 
and lost his way. It appeared to Redworth singularly, 
that near the ending of a wild goose chase, his plight was 
pretty well described by the fellow. However, he had to 
knock at the door of The Crossways now, in the silent 
night time, a certainly empty house, to his fancy. He 
fed on a snack of cold meat and tea, standing, and set 
forth, clearly directed, 'if he kept a sharp eye open.' 
Hitherto he had proved his capacity, and he rather smiled 
at the repetition of the formula to him, of all men. A 
turning to the right was taken, one to the left, and through 
the churchyard, out of the gate, rovmd to the right, and 
on. By this route, after an hour, he found himself 
passing beneath the bare chestnuts of the churchyard 
wall of Storling, and the sparkle of the edges of the dead 
chestnut-leaves at his feet reminded him of the very ideas 
he had entertained when treading them. The loss of an 
hour strung him to pursue the chase in earnest, and he 
had a beating of the heart as he thought that it might 
be serious. He recollected thinking it so at Copsley. 
The long ride, and nightfall, with nothing in view, had 
obscured his mind to the possible behind the thick ob- 
struction of the probable; again the possible waved its 
inarsh-light. To help in saving her from a fatal step. 



96 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

supposing a dozen combinations of the conditional mood, 
became his fixed object, since here he was — of that there 
was no doubt; and he was not here to play the fool, 
though the errand were foolish. He entered the church- 
yard, crossed the shadow of the tower, and hastened 
along the path, fancying he beheld a couple of figures 
vanishing before him. He shouted; he hoped to obtain 
directions from these natives : the moon was bright, the 
gravestones legible; but no answer came back, and the 
place appeared to belong entirely to the dead. ' I 've 
frightened them,' he thought. They left a queerish 
sensation in his frame. A ride down to Sussex to see 
ghosts would be an odd experience; but an undigested 
dinner of tea is the very grandmother of ghosts ; and he 
accused it of confusing him, sight and mind. Out of the 
gate, now for the turning to the right, and on. He 
turned. He must have previously turned wrongly some- 
where — and where? A light in a cottage invited him to 
apply for the needed directions. The door was opened by 
a woman, who had never heard tell of The Crossways, nor 
had her husband, nor any of the children crowding round 
them. A voice within ejaculated: 'Crassways!' and 
soon upon the grating of a chair, an old man, whom the 
woman named her lodger, by way of introduction, pre- 
sented himself with his hat on, saying: 'I knows the 
spot they calls Crassways,' and he led. Red worth 
understood the intention that a job was to be made of it, 
and submitting, said: 'To the right, I think.' He was 
bidden to come along, if he wanted 'they Crassways,' 
and from the right they turned to the left, and further 
sharp round, and on to a turn, where the old man, other- 
wise incommunicative, said: 'There, down thik theer 
road, and a post in the middle.' 

'I want a house, not a post!' roared Redworth, spy- 
ing a bare space. 



PRACTICAL MAN AND DIVINING WOMAN 97 

The old man despatched a finger travelling to his nob. 
' Naw, there 's ne'er a house. But that 's crassways for 
four roads, if it 's crassways, you wants.' 

They journeyed backward. They were in such a maze 
of lanes that the old man was master, and Redworth 
vowed to be rid of him at the first cottage. This, how- 
ever, they were long in reaching, and the old man was 
promptly through the garden-gate, hailing the people and 
securing information, before Redworth could well hear. 
He smiled at the dogged astuteness of a dense-headed old 
creature determined to establish a claim to his fee. They 
struck a lane sharp to the left. 

'You're Sussex?' Redworth asked him, and was 
answered : ' Naw ; the Sheers.' 

Emerging from deUberation, the old man said : ' Ah 'm 
a Hampshireman.' 

'A capital county !' 

'Heigh !' The old man heaved his chest. 'Once !' 

' Why, what has happened to it ? ' 

' Once it were a capital county, I say. Hah ! you asks 
me what have happened to it. You take and go and look 
at it now. And down heer 'II be no better soon, I tells 
'em. When ah was a boy, old Hampshire was a proud 
country, wi' the old coaches and the old squires, and 
Harvest Homes, and Christmas merryings. — Cutting up 
the land ! There 's no pride in livin' theer, nor any- 
where, as I sees, now.' 

'You mean the railways.' 

'It 's the Devil come up and abroad ower all England !' 
exclaimed the melancholy ancient patriot. 

A little cheering was tried on him, but vainly. He saw 
with unerring distinctness the triumph of the Foul Poten- 
tate, nay his personal appearance 'in they theer puffin' 
engines.' The country which had produced Andrew 
JEedger, as he stated his name to be, would never show 



98 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the same old cricketing commons it did when he was a 
boy. Old England, he declared, was done for. 

When Redworth applied to his watch under the brilliant 
moonbeams, he discovered that he had been listening to 
this natural outcry of a decaying and shunted class full 
three-quarters of an hour, and The Crossways was not in 
sight. He remonstrated. The old man plodded along. 
'We must do as we 're directed,' he said. 

Further walking brought them to a turn. Any turn 
seemed hopeful. Another turn offered the welcome sight 
of a blazing doorway on a rise of ground off the road. 
Approaching it, the old man requested him to 'bide a bit,' 
and stalked the ascent at long strides. A vigorous old 
fellow. Redworth waited below, observing how he 
joined the group at the lighted door, and, as it was ap- 
parent, put his question of the whereabout of The Cross- 
ways. Finally, in extreme impatience, he walked up to 
the group of spectators. They were all, and Andrew 
Hedger among them, the most entranced and profoundly 
reverent, observing the dissection of a pig. 

Unable to awaken his hearing, Redworth jogged his 
arm, and the shake was ineffective until it grew in force. 

' I 've no time to lose ; have they told you the way ? ' 

Andrew Hedger yielded his arm. He slowly withdrew 
his intent fond gaze from the fair outstretched white 
carcase, and with drooping eyelids, he said: 'Ah could 
eat hog a solid hower !' 

He had forgotten to ask the way, intoxicated by the 
aspect of the pig ; and when he did ask it, he was hard of 
understanding, given wholly to his last glimpses. 

Redworth got the directions. He would have dis- 
missed Mr. Andrew Hedger, but there was no doing so. 
'I '11 show ye on to The Crossways House,' the latter said, 
implying that he had already earned something by show- 
ing him The Crossways post. 



PRACTICAL MAN AND DIVINING WOMAN 99 

'Hog's my feed,' said Andrew Hedger. The gastric 
springs of eloquence moved him to discourse, and he un- 
burdened himself between succulent pauses. 'They 've 
killed him early. He 's fat ; and he might ha' been 
fatter. But he 's fat. They 've got their Christmas 
ready, that they have. Lord ! you should see the chitter- 
lings, and the sausages hung up to and along the beams. 
That 's a crown for any dwellin' ! They runs 'em round 
the top of the room — it 's like a May-day wreath in old 
times. Home-fed hog ! They 've a treat in store, they 
have. And snap yoiu- fingers at the world for many a 
long day. And the hams ! They cure their own hams 
at that house. Old style ! That 's what I say of a hog. 
He 's good from end to end, and beats a Christian hollow. 
Everybody knows it and owns it.' 

Redworth was getting tired. In sympathy with current 
conversation, he said a word for the railways : they would 
certainly make the^ flesh of swine cheaper, bring a heap 
of hams into the market. But Andrew Hedger remarked 
with contempt that he had not much opinion of foreign 
hams : nobody knew what they fed on. Hog, he said, 
would feed on anything, where there was no choice — 
they had wonderful stomachs for food. Only, when they 
had a choice, they left the worst for last, and home-fed 
filled them with stuff to make good meat and fat — ' what 
we calls prime bacon.' As it is not right to damp a native 
enthusiasm, Redworth let him dilate on his theme, and 
mused on his boast to eat hog a solid hour, which roused 
some distant classic recollection : — an odd jumble. 

They crossed the wooden bridge of a flooded stream. 

'Now ye have it,' said the hog- worshipper ; 'that may 
be the house, I reckon.' 

A dark mass of building, with the moon behind it, 
shining in spires through a mound of firs, met Redworth's 
gaze. The windows all were blind, no smoke rose from 



100 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the chimneys. He noted the dusky square of green, and 
the finger-post signalling the centre of the four roads. 
Andrew Hedger repeated that it was The Crossways house, 
ne'er a doubt. Redworth paid him his expected fee, 
whereupon Andrew, shouldering off, wished him a hearty 
good night, and forthwith departed at high pedestrian 
pace, manifestly to have a concluding look at the beloved 
anatomy. 

There stood the house. Absolutely empty! thought 
Redworth. The sound of the gate-bell he rang was like 
an echo to him. The gate was unlocked. He felt a return 
of his queer churchyard sensation when walking up the 
garden-path, in the shadow of the house. Here she was 
bom : here her father died : and this was the station of 
her dreams, as a girl at school near London and in Paris. 
Her heart was here. He looked at the windows facing 
the Downs with dead eyes. The vivid idea of her was a 
phantom presence, and cold, assuring him that the bodily 
Diana was absent. Had Lady Dunstane guessed rightly, 
he might perhaps have been of service ! 

Anticipating the blank silence, he rang the house-bell. 
It seemed to set wagging a weariful tongue in a corpse. 
The bell did its duty to the last note, and one thin revival 
stroke, for a finish, as in days when it responded livingly 
to the guest. He pulled, and had the reply, just the 
same, with the faint terminal touch, resembling exactly a 
'There!' at the close of a voluble delivery in the nega- 
tive. Absolutely empty. He pulled and»pulled. The 
bell wagged, wagged. This had been a house of a witty 
host, a merry girl, junketting guests , a house of hUarious 
thunders, lightnings of fun and fancy. Death never 
seemed more voiceful than in that wagging of the bell. 

For conscience' sake, as became a trusty emissary, he 
walked round to the back of the house, to verify the total 
emptiness. His apprehensive despondency had said that 



PRACTICAL MAN AND DIVINING WOMAN 101 

it was absolutely empty, but upon consideration he. sup- 
posed the house must have some guardian : likely enough, 
an old gardener and his wife, lost in deafness double- 
shotted by sleep ! There was no sign of them. The 
night air waxed sensibly crisper. He thumped the back- 
doors. Blank hollowness retorted on the blow. He 
banged and kicked. The violent altercation with wood 
and waU lasted several minutes, ending as it had begun. 
Flesh may worry, but is sure to be worsted in such an 
argument. 

'Well, my dear lady!' — Redworth addressed Lady 
Dunstane aloud, while driving his hands into his pockets 
for warmth — ' we 've done what we could. The next best 
thing is to go to bed and see what morning brings us.' 

The temptation to glance at the wild divinings of 
dreamy-witted women from the point of view of the 
practical man, was aided by the intense frigidity of the 
atmosphere in leading him to criticize a sex not much used 
to the exercise of brains. 'And they hate railways!' 
He associated them, in the matter of intelligence, with 
Andrew Hedger and Company. They sank to the level 
of the temperature in his esteem — as regarded their 
intellects. He approved their warmth of heart. The 
nipping of the victim's toes and finger-tips testified 
powerfully to that. 

Round to the front of the house at a trot, he stood in 
moonlight. Then, for involuntarily he now did every- 
thing running, with a dash up the steps he seized the 
sullen pendant bell-handle, and worked it pumpwise, till 
he perceived a smaller bell-knob beside the door, at which 
he worked piston-wise. Pimip and piston, the hurly- 
burly and the tinkler created an alarm to scare cat and 
mouse and Cardinal spider, all that run or weave in deso- 
late houses, with the good result of a certain degree of heat 
to his frame. He ceased, panting. No stir within, nor 



102 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

light. That white stare of windows at the moon was 
undisturbed. 

The Downs were like a wavy robe of shadowy grey silk. 
No wonder that she had loved to look on them ! 

And it was no wonder that Andrew Hedger enjoyed 
prime bacon. Bacon frizzling, fat rashers of real home- 
fed on the fire — none of your foreign — suggested a genial 
refreshment and resistance to antagonistic elements. Nor 
was it, granting health, granting a sharp night — the 
temperature at least fifteen below zero — an excessive 
boast for a man to say he could go on eating for a solid 
hour. 

These were notions darting through a haK nourished 
gentleman nipped in the frame by a severely frosty night. 
Truly a most beautiful night ! She would have delighted 
to see it here. The Downs were like floating islands, like 
fairy-laden vapours; solid, as Andrew Hedger's hour of 
eating ; visionary, as too often his desire ! 

Redworth muttered to himself, after taking the picture 
of the house and surrounding country from the sward, 
that he thought it about the sharpest night he had ever 
encountered in England. He was cold, hungry, dis- 
pirited, and astoundingly stricken with an incapacity to 
separate any of his thoughts from old Andrew Hedger. 
Nature was at her pranks upon him. 

He left the garden briskly, as to the legs, and reluc- 
tantly. He would have liked to know whether Diana 
had recently visited the house, or was expected. It 
could be learnt in the morning; but his mission was 
urgent and he on the wings of it. He was vexed and 
saddened. 

Scarcely had he closed the garden-gate when the noise 
of an opening window arrested him, and he called. The 
answer was in a feminine voice, youngish, not disagree- 
able, though not Diana's. 



A POSITION OF DELICACY 103 

He heard none of the words, but rejoined in a bawl : 
'Mrs. Warwick! — Mr. Redworth!' 

That was loud enough for the deaf or the dead. 

The window closed. He went to the door and waited. 
It swung wide to him; and O marvel of a woman's 
divination of a woman ! there stood Diana. 



CHAPTER IX 

SHOWS HOW A POSITION OF DELICACY FOB A LADY AND 
GENTLEMAN WAS MET IN SIMPLE FASHION WITHOUT 
HURT TO EITHER 

Redworth's impulse was to laugh for very gladness of 
heart, as he proffered excuses for his tremendous alarums : 
and in doing so, the worthy gentleman imagined he must 
have persisted in clamouring for admission because he 
suspected, that if at home, she would require a violent 
summons to betray herself. It was necessary to him to 
follow his abashed sagacity up to the mark of his happy 
animation. 

'Had I known it was you!' said Diana, bidding him 
enter the passage. She wore a black silk mantiUa and 
was warmly covered. 

She called to her maid Danvers, whom Redworth re- 
membered : a firm woman of about forty, wrapped, like 
her mistress, in head-covering, cloak, scarf and shawl. 
TeUing her to scour the kitchen for firewood, Diana led 
into a sitting-room. 'I need not ask — you have come 
from Lady Dunstane,' she said. 'Is she well?' 

'She is deeply anxious.' 

'You are cold. Empty houses are colder than out of 
doors. You shall soon have a fire.' 



104 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

She begged him to be seated. 

The small glow of candle-light made her dark rich 
colouring orange in shadow. 

' House and grounds are open to a tenant/ she resumed. 
'I say good-bye to them to-morrow morning. The old 
couple who are in charge sleep in the village to-night. I 
did not want them here. You have quitted the Govern- 
ment service, I think?' 

'A year or so since.' 

'When did you return from America?' 

'Two days back.' 

'And paid your visit to Copsley immediately?' 

'As early as I could.' 

'That was true friendliness. You have a letter for 
me?' 

'I have.' 

He put his hand to his pocket for the letter. 

'Presently,' she said. She divined the contents, and 
nursed her resolution to withstand them. Danvers had 
brought firewood and coal. Orders were given to her, 
and in spite of the opposition of the maid and intervention 
of the gentleman, Diana knelt at the grate, observing: 
'Allow me to do this. I can lay and light a fire.' 

He was obliged to look on : she was a woman who spoke 
her meaning. She knelt, handling paper, firewood and 
matches, like a housemaid. Danvers proceeded on her 
mission, and Redworth eyed Diana in the first fire-glow. 
He could have imagined a Madonna on an old black 
Spanish canvas. 

The act of service was beautiful in gracefulness, and 
her simplicity in doing the work touched it spiritually. 
He thought, as she knelt there, that never had he seen 
how lovely and how charged with mystery her features 
were ; the dark large eyes full on the brows ; the proud 
line of a straight nose in right measure to the bow of the 



A POSITION OF DELICACY 105 

lips; reposeful red lips, shut, and their curve of the 
slumber-smile at the comers. Her forehead was broad; 
the chin of a sufficient firmness to sustain that noble 
square; the brows marked by a soft thick brush to the 
temples; her black hair plainly drawn along her head 
to the knot, revealed by the mantilla fallen on her neck. 

Elegant in plaioness, the classic poet would have said 
of her hair and dress. She was of the women whose wits 
are quick in everything they do. That which was proper 
to her position, complexion, and the hour, surely marked 
her appearance. Unaccountably this night, the fair 
fleshly presence over-weighted her intellectual distinction, 
to an observer bent on vindicating her innocence. Or 
rather, he saw the hidden in the visible. 

Owner of such a woman, and to lose her ! Redworth 
pitied the husband. 

The cracklLug flames reddened her whole person. Gaz- 
ing, he remembered Lady Dunstane sajdng of her once, 
that in anger she had the nostrils of a war-horse. The 
nostrils now were faintly alive under some sensitive im- 
pression of her^ musings. The olive cheeks, pale as she 
stood in the doorway, were flushed by the fire-beams, 
lihough no longer with their swarthy central rose, tropic 
/ flower of a pure and abounding blood, as it had seemed. 
She was now beset by battle. His pity for her, and his 
eager championship, overwhelmed the spirit of com- 
passion for the foolish wretched husband. Dolt, the man 
must be, Redworth thought ; and he asked inwardly. Did 
the miserable tyrant suppose of a woman like this, that 
she would be content to shine as a candle in a grated 
lanthom? The generosity of men speculating upon 
other men's possessions is known. Yet the man who 
loves a woman has to the full the husband's jealousy of 
her good name. And a. lover, that without the claims 
of the alliance, can be wounded on her behalf, is less 



/ 



106 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

distracted in his homage by the personal luminary, to which 
man's manufacture of balm and incense is mainly drawn 
when his love is wounded. That contemplation of her 
incomparable beauty, with the multitude of his ideas 
fluttering round it, did somewhat shake the personal 
luminary in Redworth. He was conscious of pangs. 
The question bit him : How far had she been indiscreet 
or wilful ? and the bite of it was a keen acid to his nerves. 
A woman doubted by her husband, is always, and even to 
her champions in the first hours of the noxious rumour, 
until they had solidified in confidence through service, 
a creature of the wilds, marked for our ancient running. 
Nay, more than a cynical world, these latter will be sensible 
of it. The doubt casts her forth, the general yelp drags 
her down; she runs like the prey of the forest under 
spotting branches; clear if we can think so, but it has 
to be thought in devotedness : her character is abroad. 
Redworth bore a strong resemblance to his fellowmen, 
except for his power of faith in this woman. Nevertheless 
it required the superbness of her beauty and the contrast- 
ing charm of her humble posture of kneeling by the fire, 
to set him on his right track of mind. He knew and was 
sure of her. He dispersed the unhallowed fry in attend- 
ance upon any stirring of the reptile part of us, to look at 
her with the eyes of a friend. And if . . . ! — a little 
mouse of a thought scampered out of one of the chambers 
of his head and darted along the passages, fetching a 
sweat to his brows. Well, whatsoever the fact, his 
heart was hers ! He hoped he could be charitable to 
women. 

She rose from her knees and said : ' Now, please, give 
me the letter.' 

He was entreated to excuse her for consigning him to 
firelight when she left the room. 

Danvers brought in a dismal tallow candle, remarking 



A POSITION OF DELICACY 107 

that her mistress had not expected visitors : her mistress 
had nothing but tea and bread and butter to offer him. 
Danvers uttered no complaint of her sufferings; happy 
in being the picture of them. 

' I 'm not hungry/ said he. 

A plate of Andrew Hedger's own would not have 
tempted him. The foolish frizzle of bacon sang in his 
ears as he walked from end to end of the room; an 
illusion of his fancy pricked by a frost-edged appetite. 
But the anticipated contest with Diana checked and 
numbed the craving. 

Was Warwick a man to proceed to extremities on a 
mad suspicion? — What kind of proof had he? 

Redworth simimoned the portrait of Mr. Warwick 
before him, and beheld a sweeping of close eyes in cloud, 
a long upper lip in cloud ; the rest of him was all cloud. 
As usual with these conjurations of a face, the index of 
the nature conceived by him displayed itself, and no 
more; but he took it for the whole physiognomy, and 
pronounced of the husband thus delineated, that those 
close eyes of the long upper lip would both suspect and 
proceed madly. 

He was invited by Danvers to enter the dining-room. 

There Diana joined him. 

'The best of a dinner on bread and butter is, that one 
is ready for supper soon after it,' she said, swimming to 
the tea-tray. 'You have dined?' 

'At the inn,' he replied. 

'The Three Ravens! When my father's guests from 
London flooded The Crossways, The Three Ravens pro- 
vided the overflow with beds. On nights like this I have 
got up and scraped the frost from my window-panes to 
see them step into the old fly, singing some song of his. 
The inn had a good reputation for hospitality in those 
. days. I hope they treated you well ? ' 



108 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Excellently,' said Redworth, taking an enormous 
mouthful, while his heart sank to see that she who smiled 
to encourage his eating had been weeping. But she also 
consumed her bread and butter. 

'That poor maid of mine is an instance of a woman able 
to do things against the grain,' she said. 'Danvers is a 
foster-child of luxury. She loves it ; great houses, plenti- 
ful meals, and the crowd of twinkling footmen's calves. 
Yet you see her here in a desolate house, consenting to 
cold, and I know not what, terrors of ghosts ! poor soul. 
I have some mysterious attraction for her. She would 
not let me come alone. I should have had to hire some 
old Storling grannam, or retain the tattling keepers of the 
house. She loves her native country too, and disdains 
the foreigner. My tea you may trust.' 

Redworth had not a doubt of it. He was becoming a 
teartaster. The merit of warmth pertained to the bever- 
age. 'I think you get your tea from Scoppin's, in the 
City,' he said. 

That was the warehouse for Mrs. Warwick's tea. They 
conversed of Teas; the black, the green, the mixtures; 
each thinking of the attack to come, and the defence. 
Meantime, the cut bread and butter having flown. Red- 
worth attacked the loaf. He apologized. 

'Oh ! pay me a practical compliment,' Diana said, and 
looked really happy at his unfeigned relish of her simple 
fare. 

She had given him one opportunity in speaking of her 
maid's love of native country. But it came too early. 

'They say that bread and butter is fattening,' he 
remarked. 

'You preserve the mean,' said she. 

He admitted that his health was good. For some little 
time, to his vexation at the absurdity, she kept him talk- 
ing of himself. So flowing was she, and so sweet the 



A POSITION OF DELICACY 109 

motion of her mouth in utterance, that he followed her 
lead, and he said odd things and corrected them. He 
had to describe his ride to her. 

'Yes! the view of the Downs from Dewhurst,' she 
exclaimed. 'Or any point along the ridge. Emma and 
I once drove there in Summer, with clotted cream from 
her dairy, and we bought fresh-plucked wortleberries, and 
stewed them in a hollow of the furzes, and ate them with 
ground biscuits and the clotted cream iced, and thought 
it a luncheon for seraphs. Then you dropped to the road 
round under the sand-heights — and meditated railways !' 

'Just a notion or two.' 

'You have been very successful in America?' 

' Successful ; perhaps ; we exclude extremes in our cal- 
culations of the still problematical.' 

'I am sure,' said she, 'you always have faith in your 
calculations.' 

Her innocent archness dealt him a stab sharper than any 
he had known since the day of his hearing of her engage- 
ment. He muttered of his calculations being human; 
he was as much of a fool as other men — ^more! 

'Oh! no,' said she. 

'Positively.' 

'I cannot think it.' 

'I know it.' 

'Mr. Redworth, you wiU never persuade me to believe it.' 

He knocked a rising groan on the head, and rejoined: 
'I hope I may not have to say so to-night.' 

Diana felt the edge of the dart. 'And meditating rail- 
ways, you scored our poor land of herds and flocks ; and 
night fell, and the moon sprang up, and on you came. It 
was clever of you to find your way by the moonbeams.' 

'That 's about the one thing I seem fit for !' 

'But what delusion is this, in the mind of a man suc- 
ceeding in everything he does !' cried Diana, curious 



110 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

despite her wariness. 'Is there to be the revelation of a 
hairshirt ultimately? — a Journal of Confessions? You 
succeeded in everything you aimed at, and broke your 
heart over one chance miss?' 

'My heart is not of the stuff to break,' he said, and 
laughed off her fortuitous thrust straight into it. 
'Another cup, yes. I came . . .' 

'By night,' said she, 'and cleverly found your way, 
and dined at The Three Ravens, and walked to The 
Crossways, and met no ghosts.' 

' On the contrary — or at least I saw a couple.' 

'Tell me of them; we breed them here. We sell them 
periodically to the newspapers.' 

'Well, I started them in their natal locality. I saw 
them, going down the churchyard, and bellowed after 
them with all my lungs. I wanted directions to The 
Crossways; I had missed my way at some turning. In 
an instant they were vapour.' 

Diana smiled. 'It was indeed a voice to startle 
delicate apparitions ! So do roar Hyrcanean tigers, 
Pyramus and Thisbe-slaying lions ! One of your ghosts 
carried a loaf of bread, and dropped it in fright; one 
carried a pound of fresh butter for home consumption. 
They were in the churchyard for one in passing to kneel 
at her father's grave and kiss his tombstone.' 

She bowed her head, forgetful of her guard. 

The pause presented an opening. Redworth left his 
chair and walked to the mantelpiece. It was easier to 
him to speak, not facing her. 

'You have read Lady Dunstane's letter,' he began. 

She nodded. 'I have.' 

' Can you resist her appeal to you ? ' 

'I must.' 

'She is not in a condition to bear it well. You will 
pardon me, Mrs. Warwick . . .' 



A POSITION OF DELICACY 111 

'Fully! Fully!' 

'I venture to offer merely practical advice. You have 
thought of it all, but have not felt it. In these cases, the 
one thing to do is to make a stand. Lady Dunstane has 
a clear head. She sees what has to be endured by you. 
Consider: she appeals to me to bring you her letter. 
Would she have chosen me, or any man, for her messenger, 
if it had not appeared to her a matter of life and death ? — 
You count me among your friends.' 

'One of the truest.' 

'Here are two, then, and your own good sense. For I 
do not believe it to be a question of courage.' 

'He has commenced. Let him carry it out,' said 
Diana. 

Her desperation could have added the cry — ^And give 
me freedom ! That was the secret in her heart. She had 
struck on the hope for the detested yoke to be broken at 
any cost. 

' I decline to meet his charges. I despise them. If my 
friends have faith in me — and they may! — I want 
nothing more.' 

'Well, I won't talk commonplaces about the world,' 
said Redworth. 'We can none of us afford to have it 
against us. Consider a moment : to your friends you are 
the Diana Merion they knew, and they will not suffer an 
injury to your good name without a struggle. But if you 
fly ? You leave the dearest you have to the whole brunt 
of it.' 

'They will, if they love me.' 

'They will. But think of the shock to her. Lady 
Dunstane reads you . . .' 

'Not quite. No, not if she even wishes me to stay!' 
said Diana. 

He was too intent on his pleading to perceive a signifi- 
cation. 



112 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'She reads you as clearly in the dark as if you were 
present with her.' 

'Oh ! why am I not ten years older !' Diana cried, and 
tried to face round to him, and stopped paralyzed. 'Ten 
years older, I could discuss my situation, as an old woman 
of the world, and use my wits to defend myself.' 

'And then you would not dream of flight before it !' 

' No, she does not read me : no ! She saw that I 
might come to The Crossways. She — no one but myself 
can see the wisdom of my holding aloof, in contempt of 
this baseness.' 

'And of allowing her to sink under that which your 
presence would arrest. Her strength will not support it.' 

'Emma! Oh, cruel!' Diana sprang up to give play 
to her limbs. She dropped on another chair. 'Go I 
must, I cannot turn back. She saw my old attachment 
to this place. It was not difficult to guess . . . Who 
but I can see the wisest course for me !' 

'It comes to this, that the blow aimed at you in your 
absence will strike her, and mortally,' said Redworth. 

'Then I say it is terrible to have a friend,' said Diana, 
with her bosom heaving. 

'Friendship, I fancy, means one heart between two.' 

His unstressed observation hit a bell in her head, and 
set it reverberating. She and Emma had spoken, written, 
the very words. She drew forth her Emma's letter from 
under her left breast, and read some half-blinded lines. 

Redworth immediately prepared to leave her to her 
feelings — trustier guides than her judgement in this crisis. 

'Adieu, for the night, Mrs. Warwick,' he said, and was 
guilty of eulogizing the judgement he thought erratic for 
the moment. ' Night is a calm adviser. Let me presume 
to come again in the morning. I dare not go back without 
you.' 

She looked up. As they faced together each saw that 



THE CONFLICT OF THE NIGHT 113 

the other had passed through a furnace, scorching enough 
to him, though hers was the deUcacy exposed. The re- 
.flection had its weight with her during the night. 

' Danvers is getting ready a bed for you ; she is airing 
linen,' Diana said. But the bed was decUned, and the 
hospitality was not pressed. The offer of it seemed to hini 
significant of an unwary cordiality and thoughtlessness of 
tattlers that might account possibly for many things — 
supposing a fool or madman, or malignants, to interpret 
them. 

'Then, good night,' said she. 

They joined hands. He exacted no promise that she 
would be present in the morniag to receive him ; and it 
was a consolation to her desire for freedom, until she 
reflected on the perfect confidence it implied, and felt as a 
quivering butterfly impalpably pinned. 



CHAPTER X 

THE CONFLICT OF THE NIGHT 

Her brain was a steam-wheel throughout the night; 
everything that could be thought of was tossed, nothing 
grasped. 

The unfriendliness of the friends who sought to retain 
her recurred. For look — to fly could not be interpreted 
as a flight. It was but a stepping aside, a disdain of 
defending herself, and a wrapping herself in her dignity. 
Women would be with her. She called on the noblest of 
them to justify the course she chose, and they did, in an 
almost audible murmur. 

And O the rich reward. A black archway-gate swimg 
open to the glittering fields of freedom. 



114 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Emma was not of the chorus. Emma meditated as an 
invalid. How often had Emma bewailed to her that the 
most grievous burden of her malady was her fatal tend- , 
ency to brood sickly upon human complications ! She 
could not see the blessedness of the prospect of freedom 
to a woman abominably yoked. What if a miserable 
woman were dragged through mire to reach it ! Married, 
the mire was her portion, whatever she might do. That 
man — but pass him ! 

And that other — the dear, the kind, careless, high- 
hearted old friend. He could honestly protest his guilt- 
lessness, and would smilingly leave the case to go its ways. 
Of this she was sure, that her decision and her pleasure 
would be his. They were tied to the stake. She had 
already tasted some of the mortal agony. Did it matter 
whether the flames consumed her? 

Reflecting on the interview with Redworth, though she 
had performed her part in it placidly, her skin burned. 
It was the beginning of tortures if she stayed in England. 
,, By staying to defend herself she forfeited her attitude 
of dignity and lost all chance of her reward. And name 
the sort of world it is, dear friends, for which we are to 
sacrifice our one hope of freedom, that we may preserve 
our fair fame in it ! 

Diana cried aloud, 'My freedom !' feeling as a butterfly 
flown out of a box to stretches of sunny earth beneath 
spacious heavens. Her bitter marriage, joyless in all its 
chapters, indefensible where the man was right as well as 
where insensately wrong, had been imprisonment. She 
excused him down to his last madness, if only the bonds 
were broken. Here, too, in this very house of her happi- 
ness with her father, she had bound herself to the man : 
voluntarily, quite inexplicably. Voluntarily, as we say. 
But there must be a spell upon us at times. Upon young 
women there certainly is. "^ 



THE CONFLICT OF THE NIGHT 115 

The wild brain of Diana, armed by her later enlighten- 
ment as to the laws of life and nature, dashed in revolt at 
the laws of the world when she thought of the forces, 
natural and social, urging young women to marry and be 
bound to the end. 

It should be a spotless world which is thus ruthless. 

But were the world impeccable it would behave more 
generously. 

The world is ruthless, dear friends, because the world is 
hypocrite! The world cannot afford to be magnani- 
mous, or even just. 

Her dissensions with her husband, their differences of 
opinion, and puny wranglings, hoistings of two standards, 
reconciliations for the sake of decency, breaches of the 
truce, and his detested meanness, the man behind the 
mask; and glimpses of herself too, the half-known, half- 
suspected, developing creature claiming to be Diana, and 
unlike her dreamed Diana, deformed by marriage, irri- 
table, acerb, rebellious, constantly justifiable against him, 
but not in her own mind, and therefore accusing him of 
the double crime of provoking her and perverting her — 
these were the troops defiling through her head while she 
did battle with the hypocrite world. 

One painful sting was caused by the feeling that she 
could have loved — whom? An ideal. Had he, the 
imagined but unvisioned, been her yoke-fellow, would she 
now lie raising caged-beast cries in execration of the yoke ? 
She would not now be seeing herself as hare, serpent, 
tigress ! The hj^othesis was reviewed in negatives : she 
had barely a sense of softness, just a single little heave of 
the bosom, quivering upward and leadenly sinking, when 
she glanced at a married Diana heartily mated. The 
regrets of the youthful for a life sailing away imder 
medical sentence of death in the sad eyes of relatives re- 
semble it. She could have loved. Good-bye to that ! 



116 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

A woman's brutallest tussle with the world was upon 
her. She was in the arena of the savage claws, flung there 
by the man who of all others should have protected her 
from them. And what had she done to deserve it ? She 
listened to the advocate pleading her case; she primed 
him to admit the charges, to say the worst, in contempt 
of legal prudence, and thereby expose her transparent 
honesty. The very things awakening a mad suspicion 
proved her innocence. But was she this utterly simple 
person ? Oh, no ! She was the Diana of the pride in 
her power of fencing with evil — by no means of the order 
of those ninny young women who realize the popular 
conception of the purely innocent. She had fenced and 
kept her guard. Of this it was her angry glory to have 
the knowledge. But she had been compelled to fence. 
Such are men in the world of facts, that when a woman 
steps out of her domestic tangle to assert, because it is a 
tangle, her rights to partial independence, they sight her 
for their prey, or at least they complacently suppose her 
accessible. Wretched at home, a woman ought to bury 
herself in her wretchedness, else may she be assured that 
not the cleverest, wariest guard will cover her character. 

Against the husband her cause was triumphant. 
Against herself she decided not to plead it, for this reason, 
that the preceding Court, which was the public and only 
positive one, had entirely and justly exonerated her. 
But the holding of her hand by the friend half a minute 
too long for friendship, and the overfriendliness of looks, 
letters, frequency of visits, would speak within her. She 
had a darting view of her husband's estimation of them 
in his present mood. She quenched it; they were 
trifles, things that women of the world have to combat. 
The revelation to a fair-minded young woman of the 
majority of men being naught other than men, and some 
of the friendliest of men betraying confidence under the 



THE CONFLICT OF THE NIGHT 117 

excuse of temptation, is one of the shocks to simplicity 
which leave her the alternative of misanthropy or philos- 
ophy. Diana had not the heart to hate her kind, so she 
resigned herself to pardon, and to the recognition of the 
state of duel between the sexes — active enough in her 
sphere of society. The circle hummed with it; many 
lived for it. Could she pretend to ignore it? Her 
personal experience might have instigated a less clear and 
less intrepid nature to take advantage of the opportunity 
for playing the popular innocent, who runs about with 
astonished eyes to find herself in so hunting a world, and 
wins general compassion, if not shelter in unsuspected 
and unlicenced places. There is perpetually the induce- 
ment to act the hypocrite before the hypocrite world, 
unless a woman submits to be the humbly knitting house- 
wife, unquestioningly worshipful of her lord; for the 
world is ever gracious to an hypocrisy that pays homage 
to the mask of virtue by copying it ; the world is hostile 
to the face of an innocence not conventionally simpering 
and quite surprised; the world prefers decorum to 
honesty. 'Let me be myself, whatever the martyrdom !' 
she cried, in that phase of young sensation when, to the 
blooming woman, the putting on of a mask appears to 
wither her and reduce her to the show she parades. Yet, 
in common with her sisterhood, she owned she had worn 
a sort of mask ; the world demands it of them as the price 
of their station. That she had never worn it consent- 
ingly, was the plea for now casting it off altogether, 
showing herself as she was, accepting martyrdom, be- 
coming the first martyr of the modem woman's cause — 
a grand position! and one imaginable to an excited 
mind in the dark, which does not conjure a critical 
hiunour, as light does, to correct the feverish sublimity. 
She was, then, this martyr, a woman capable of telling 
• the world she knew it, and of confessing that she had 



118 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

behaved in disdain of its rigider rules, according to her 
own ideas of her immunities. brave ! 

But was she holding the position by flight? It in- 
volved the challenge of consequences, not an evasion of 
them. 

She moaned; her mental steam- wheel stopped; 
fatigue brought sleep. 

She had sensationally led her rebellious wits to The 
Crossways, distilling much poison from thoughts on the 
way; and there, for the luxury of a stDl seeming in- 
decision, she sank into oblivion. 



CHAPTER XI 

RECOUNTS THE JOURNEY IN A CHARIOT, WITH A CERTAIN 
AMOUNT OF DIALOGUE, AND A SMALL INCIDENT ON 
THE ROAD 

In the morning the fight was over. She looked at the 
signpost of The Crossways whilst dressing, and submitted 
to follow, obediently as a puppet, the road recommended 
by friends, though a voice within, that she took for the 
intimations of her reason, protested that they were wrong, 
that they were judging of her case in the general, and 
unwisely — disastrously for her. 

The mistaking of her desires for her reasons was peculiar 
to her situation. 

'So I suppose I shall some day see The Crossways 
again,' she said, to conceive a compensation in the aban- 
donment of freedom. The night's red vision of martyr- 
dom was reserved to console her secretly, among the 
unopened lockers in her treasury of thoughts. It helped 
to sustain her; and she was too conscious of things 



THE JOURNEY IN A CHARIOT 119 

necessary for her sustaininent to bring it to the light of 
day and examine it. She had a pitiful bit of pleasure 
in the gratification she imparted to Danvers, by in- 
forming her that the journey of the day was backward 
to Copsley. 

'If I may venture to say so, ma'am, I am very glad,' 
said her maid. 

'You must be prepared for the questions of lawyers, 
Danvers.' 

' Oh, ma'am ! they '11 get nothing out of me, and their 
wigs won't frighten me.' 

'It is usually their baldness that is most frightening, 
my poor Danvers.' 

'Nor their baldness, ma'am,' said the literal maid; 'I 
never cared for their heads, or them. I 've been in a 
Case before.' 

'Indeed !' exclaimed her mistress ; and she had a dull. 

Danvers mentioned a notorious Case, adding, 'They 
got nothing out of me.' 

'In my Case you will please to speak the truth,' said 
Diana, and beheld in the looking-glass the primming of 
her maid's mouth. The sight shot a sting. 

'Understand that there is to be no hesitation about 
telling the truth of what you know of me,' said Diana; 
and the answer was, 'No, ma'am.' 

For Danvers could remark to herself that she knew 
little, and was not a person to hesitate. She was a maid 
of the world, with the quality of faithfulness, by nature, 
to a good mistress. 

Redworth's further difficulties were confined to the 
hiring of a conveyance for the travellers, and hot-water 
bottles, together with a postUlion not addicted to drunken- 
ness. He procured a posting-chariot, an ancient and 
musty, of a late autumnal yellow unrefreshed by paint; 
,the only bottles to be had were Dutch schiedam. His 



120 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

postillion, inspected at Storling, carried the flag of 
habitual inebriation on his nose, and he deemed it ad- 
viseable to ride the mare in accompaniment as far as 
Riddlehurst, notwithstanding the postillion's vows upon 
his honour that he was no drinker. The emphasis, to a 
gentleman acquainted with his countrymen, was not 
reassuring. He had hopes of enlisting a trustier fellow 
at Riddlehurst, but he was disappointed; and while 
debating upon what to do, for he shrank from leaving 
two women to the conduct of that inflamed trbugh- 
snout, Brisby, despatched to Storling by an afterthought 
of Lady Dunstane's, rushed out of the Riddlehurst inn 
taproom, and relieved him of the charge of the mare. He 
was accommodated with a seat on a stool in the chariot. 
'My triumphal car,' said his captive. She was very 
amusing about her postillion ; Danvers had to beg pardon 
for laughing. 'You are happy,' observed her mistress. 
But Redworth laughed too, and he could not boast of any 
happiness beyond the temporary satisfaction, nor could 
she who sprang the laughter boast of that little. She 
said to herself, in the midst of the hilarity, 'Wherever 
I go now, in all weathers, I am perfectly naked !' And 
remembering her readings of a certain wonderful old 
quarto book in her father's library, by an eccentric old 
Scottish nobleman, wherein the wearing of garments and 
sleeping in houses is accused as the cause of human de- 
generacy, she took a forced merry stand on her return to 
the primitive healthful state of man and woman, and 
affected scorn of our modern ways of dressing and think- 
ing. Whence it came that she had some of her wildest 
seizures of iridescent humour. Danvers attributed the 
fun to her mistress's gladness in not having pursued her 
bent to quit the country. Redworth saw deeper, and 
was nevertheless amazed by the airy hawk-poise and 
pounce-down of her wit, as she ranged high and low, now 



THE JOURNEY IN A CHARIOT 121 

capriciously generalizing, now dropping bolt upon things 
of passage — ^the postillion jogging from rum to gin, the 
rustics baconly agape, the horse-kneed ostlers. She 
touched them to the life in similes and phrases; and 
next she was aloft, derisively philosophizing, but with 
a comic afflatus that dispersed the sharpness of her 
irony in mocking laughter. The afternoon refreshments 
at the inn of the county market-town, and the English 
idea of public hospitality, as to manner and the substance 
provided for wayfarers, were among the themes she made 
memorable to him. She spoke of everjiihing tolerantly, 
just naming it in a simple sentence, that fell with a ring 
and chimed : their host's ready acquiescence in receiving 
orders, his contemptuous disclaimer of stuff he did not 
keep, his flat indifference to the sheep he sheared, and 
the phantom half-crown flickering in one eye of the antic- 
ipatory waiter; the pervading and confounding smell 
of stale beer over all the apartments; the prevalent 
notion of bread, butter, tea, milk, sugar, as matter for 
the exercise of a native inventive genius — these were 
reviewed in quips of metaphor. 

' Come, we can do better at an inn or two known to me,' 
said Redworth. 

'Surely this is the best that can be done for us, when 
we strike them with the magic wand of a postillion?' 
said she. 

'It depends, as elsewhere, on the individuals enter- 
taining us.' 

'Yet you admit that your railways are rapidly "polish- 
ing off" the individual.' 

'They will spread the metropolitan idea of comfort.' 

' I fear they will feed us on nothing but that big word. 
It booms — a curfew bell — for every poor little. light that 
we would read by.' 

Seeing their beacon-nosed postillion preparing to 



122 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

mount and failing in his jump, Redworth was appre- 
hensive, and questioned the fellow concerning potation. 

'Lord, sir, they call me half a horse, but I can't 'bide 
water,' was the reply, with the assurance that he had not 
'taken a pailful.' 

Habit enabled him to gain his seat. 

'It seems to us unnecessary to heap on coal when the 
chimney is afire; but he may know the proper course,' 
Diana said, convulsing Danvers ; and there was discern- 
ibly to Redworth, under the influence of her phrases, a 
likeness of the flaming 'half-horse,' with the animals all 
smoking in the frost, to a railway engine. 'Your 
wrinkled centaur,' she named the man. Of course he 
had to play second to her, and not unwUlingly; but he 
reflected passingly on the instinctive push of her rich 
and sparkling voluble fancy to the initiative,' which 
women do not like in a woman, and men prefer to dis- 
tantly admire. English women and men feel toward the 
quick-witted of their species as to aliens, having the 
demerits of aliens — wordiness, vanity, obscurity, shallow- 
ness, an empty glitter, the sin of posturing. A quick- 
witted woman exerting her wit is both a foreigner and 
potentially a criminal. She is incandescent to a breath of 
rumour. It accounted for her having detractors; a 
heavy counterpoise to her enthusiastic friends. It might 
account for her husband's discontent — the reduction of 
him to a state of mere masculine antagonism. What is 
the husband of a vanward woman? He feels himself 
but a diminished man. The English husband of a voluble 
woman relapses into a dreary mute. Ah, for the choice 
of places ! Redworth would have yielded her the loquent 
lead for the smallest of the privileges due to him who 
now rejected all, except the public scourging of her. The 
conviction was in his mind that the husband of this 
woman sought rather to punish than be rid of her. 



THE JOURNEY IN A CHARIOT 123 

But a part of his own emotion went to form the 
judgement. 

Furthermore, Lady Dunstane's allusion to her 
'enemies' made him set down her growing crop of back- 
biters to the trick she had of ridiculing things English. 
If the English do it themselves, it is in a professionally 
robust, a jocose, kindly way, always with a glance at the 
other things, great things, they excel in; and it is done 
to have the credit of doing it. They are keen to catch an 
inimical tone; they will find occasion to chastise the 
presumptuous individual, unless it be the leader of a 
party, therefore a power; for they respect a power. 
Redworth knew their quaintnesses ; without overlooking 
them he winced at the acid of an irony that seemed to 
spring from aversion, and regretted it, for her sake. He 
had to recollect that she was in a sharp-strung mood, 
bitterly surexcited ; moreover he reminded himself of her 
many and memorable phrases of enthusiasm for England 
— Shakespeareland, as she would sometimes perversely 
term it, to sink the country in the poet. English forti- 
tude, English integrity, the English disposition to do 
justice to dependents, adolescent English ingenuousness, 
she was always ready to laud. Only her enthusiasm re- 
quired rousing by circumstances ; it was less at the brim 
than her satire. Hence she made enemies among a 
placable people. 

He felt that he could have helped her under happier 
conditions. The beautiful vision she had been on the 
night of the Irish Ball swept before him, and he looked 
at her, smiling. 

'Why do you smile?' she said. 

'I was thinking of Mr. Sullivan Smith.' 

' Ah ! my dear compatriot ! And think, too, of Lord 
Larrian.' 
. She caught her breath. Instead of recreation, the 



124 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

names brought on a fit of sadness. It deepened; she 
neither smiled nor rattled any more. She gazed across; 
the hedgeways at the white meadows and bare-twigged. 
copses showing their last leaves in the frost. 

'I remember your words: "Observation is the most; 
enduring of the pleasures of life"; and so I have found 
it,' she said. There was a brightness along her under- 
eyelids that caused him to look away. 

The expected catastrophe occurred on the descent of a, 
cutting in the sand, where their cordial postillion at a trot 
bumped the chariot against the sturdy wheels of a waggon,, 
which sent it reclining for support upon a beech-tree's, 
huge intertwisted serpent roots, amid strips of brown 
bracken and pendant weeds, while he exhibited one short 
stump of leg, all boot, in air. No one was hurt. Diana 
disengaged herself from the shoulder of Danvers, and 
mildly said : 

'That reminds me, I forgot to ask why we came in a 
chariot.' 

Redworth was excited on her behalf, but the broken- 
glass had done no damage, nor had Danvers fainted. 
The remark was unintelligible to him, apart from the; 
comforting it had been designed to give. He jumped, 
out, and held a hand for them to do the same. ' I never 
foresaw an event more positively,' said he. 

' And it was nothing but a back view that inspired you 
all the way,' said Diana. 

A waggoner held the horses, another assisted Redworth. 
to right the chariot. The postillion had hastily recovered 
possession of his official seat, that he might as soon as. 
possible feel himself again where he was most intelligent, 
and was gay in stupidity, indifferent to what happened 
behind him. Diana heard him counselling the waggoner 
as to the common sense of meeting small accidents with a, 
cheerful soul. 



THE JOURNEY IN A CHARIOT 125 

'Lord!' he cried, 'I been pitched a somerset in 
my time, and taken up for dead, and that didn't beat 
me !' 

Disasters of the present kind could hardly affect such a 
veteran. But he was painfully disconcerted by Red- 
worth's determination not to entrust the ladies any 
farther to his guidance. Danvers had implored for 
permission to walk the mile to the town, and thence take a 
fly to Copsley. Her mistress rather sided with the pos- 
tillion, who begged them to spare him the disgrace of 
riding in and delivering a box at the Red Lion. 

'What '11 they say? And they know Arthur Dance 
well there,' he groaned. 'What! Arthur! chariotin' a 
box ! And me a better man to his work now than I been 
for many a long season, fit for double the journey ! A bit 
of a shake always braces me up. I could read a news- 
paper right off, small print and all. Come along, sir, and 
hand the ladies in.' 

Danvers vowed her thanks to Mr. Redworth for re- 
fusing. They walked ahead; the postillion communi- 
cated his mixture of professional and human feelings to 
the waggoners, and walked his horses in the rear, medi- 
tating on the weak-heartedness of gentryfolk, and the 
means for escaping being chaffed out of his boots at the 
Old Red Lion, where he was to eat, drink, and sleep that 
night. Ladies might be fearsome after a bit of a shake; 
he would not have supposed it of a gentleman. He 
jogged himself into an arithmetic of the number of nips 
of liquor he had taken to soothe him on the road, in spite 
of the gentleman. 'For some of 'em are sworn enemies 
of poor men, as yonder one, ne'er a doubt.' 

Diana enjoyed her walk beneath the lingering brown- 
red of the frosty November sunset, with the scent of 
sand-earth strong in the air. 
. 'I had to hire a chariot because there was no two-horse 



126 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

carriage,' said Redworth, 'and I wished to reach Copsley 
as early as possible.' 

She replied, smiling, that accidents were fated. As a 
certain marriage had been ! The comparison forced itself 
on her reflections. 

'But this is quite an adventure,' said she, reanimated 
by the brisker flow of her blood. ' We ought really to be 
thankful for it, in days when nothing happens.' 

Redworth accused her of getting that idea from the 
perusal of romances. 

'Yes, our lives require compression, like romances, to 
be interesting, and we object to the process,' she said. 
* Real happiness is a state of dulness. When we taste it 
consciously it becomes mortal — a thing of the Seasons. 
But I like my walk. How long these November sunsets 
burn, and what hues they have ! There is a scientific 
reason, only don't tell it me. Now I understand why 
you always used to choose your holidays in November.' 

She thrilled him with her friendly recollection of his 
customs. 

'As to happiness, the looking forward is happiness,' he 
remarked. 

' Oh, the looking back ! back!' she cried. 

' Forward ! that is life.' 

'And backward, death, if you will; and still it is 
happiness. Death, and our postUlion !' 

'Ay; I wonder why the fellow hangs to the rear,' said 
Redworth, turning about. 

'It 's his cunning strategy, poor creature, so that he 
may be thought to have delivered us at the head of the 
town, for us to make a purchase or two, if we go to the 
inn on foot,' said Diana. ' We '11 let the manoeuvre 
succeed.' 

Redworth declared that she had a head for everything, 
and she was flattered to hear him. 



BETWEEN EMMA AND DIANA 127 

So passing from the southern into the western road, 
they saw the town-lights beneath an amber sky burning 
out sombrely over the woods of Copsley, and entered the 
town, the postillion following. 



CHAPTER XII 

BETWEEN EMMA AND DIANA 

Diana was in the arms of her friend at a late hour of the 
evening, and Danvers breathed the amiable atmosphere 
of footmen once more, professing herself perished. This 
maid of the world, who could endure hardships and loss 
of society for the mistress to whom she was attached, no 
sooner saw herself surrounded by the comforts befitting 
her station, than she indulged in the luxury of a wailful 
dejectedness, the better to appreciate them. She was 
unaffectedly astonished to find her outcries against the 
cold and the joumeyings to and fro interpreted as a 
serving-woman's muffled comments on her mistress's 
behaviour. Lady Dunstane's maid Bartlett, and Mrs. 
Bridges the housekeeper, and Foster the butler, con- 
trived to let her know that they could speak an if they 
would ; and they expressed their pity of her to assist her 
to begin the speaking. She bowed in acceptance of 
Foster's offer of a glass of wine after supper, but treated 
him and the other two immediately as though they had 
been interrogating bigwigs. 

'They wormed nothing out of me,' she said to her 
mistress at night, undressing her. 'But what a set they 
are ! They 've got such comfortable places, they 've aU 
their days and hours for talk of the doings of their 
superiors. They read the vilest of those town papers. 



128 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

and they put their two and two together of what is happen- 
ing in and about. And not one of the footmen thinks of 
staying, because it 's so dull ; and they and the maids 
object — did one ever hear? — to the three uppers retiring, 
when they 've done dining, to the private room to dessert.' 

'That is the custom?' observed her mistress. 

'Foster carries the decanter, ma'am, and Mrs. Bridges 
the biscuits, and Bartlett the plate of fruit, and they 
march out in order." 

'The man at the head of the procession, probably.' 

'Oh yes. And the others, though they have every- 
thing except the wine and dessert, don't like it. When I 
was here last they were new, and hadn't a word against it. 
Now they say it 's invidious ! Lady Dunstane will be 
left without an under-servant at Copsley soon. I was 
asked about your boxes, ma'am, and the moment I said 
they were at Dover, that instant all three peeped. They 
let out a mouse to me. They do love to talk !' 

Her mistress could have added, ' And you too, my good 
Danvers !' trustworthy though she knew the creature 
to be in the main. 

'Now go, and be sure you have bedclothes enough 
before you drop asleep,' she said; and Danvers directed 
her steps to gossip with Bartlett. 

Diana wrapped herself in a dressing-gown Lady Dun- 
stane had sent her, and sat by the fire, thinking of the 
powder of tattle stored in servants' halls to explode be- 
neath her: and but for her choice of roads she might 
have been among strangers. The liking of strangers 
best is a curious exemplification of innocence. 

'Yes, I was in a muse,' she said, raising her head to 
Emma, whom she expected and sat armed to meet, unac- 
countably iron-nerved. 'I was questioning whether I 
could be quite as blameless as I fancy, if I sit and shiver 
to be in England. You will tell me I have taken the right 



BETWEEN EMMA AND DIANA 129 

road. I doubt it. But the road is taken, and here I am. 
But any road that leads me to you is homeward, my 
darling!' She tried to melt, determining to be at least 
open with her. 

'I have not praised you enough for coming,' said 
Emma, when they had embraced again. 

'Praise a little your "truest friend of women." Your 
letter gave the tug. I might have resisted it.' 

' He came straight from heaven ! But, cruel Tony ! 
where is your love?' 

'It is unequal to yours, dear, I see. I could have 
wrestled with anything abstract and distant, from being 
certain — . But here I am.' 

'But, my own dear girl, you never could have allowed 
this infamous charge to be imdefended?' 

'I think so. I 've an odd apathy as to my character; 
rather like death, when one dreams of flying the soul. 
What does it matter? I should have left the flies and 
wasps to worry a corpse. And then — good-bye gentility ! 
I should have worked for my bread. I had thoughts of 
America. I fancy I can write ; and Americans, one hears, 
are gentle to women.' 

'Ah, Tony! there's the looking back. And, of all 
women, you!' 

'Or else, dear — well, perhaps once on foreign soU, in a 
different air, I might — might have looked back, and seen 
my whole self, not shattered, as I feel it now, and come 
home again compassionate to the poor persecuted animal 
to defend her. Perhaps that was what I was running 
away for. I fled on the instinct, often a good thing to 
trust.' 

' I saw you at The Crossways.' 

'I remembered I had the dread that you would, though 
I did not imagine you would reach me so swiftly. My 
^ing there was an instinct, too. I suppose we are aU 



130 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

instinct when we have the world at our heels. Forgive 
me if I generalize without any longer the right to be 
included in the common human sum. "Pariah" and 
"taboo" are words we borrow from barbarous tribes; 
they stick to me.' 

'My Tony, you look as bright as ever, and you speak 
despairingly.' 

'Call me enigma. I am that to myself, Emmy.' 

'You are not quite yourself to your friend.' 

' Since the blow I have been bewildered ; I see nothing 
upright. It came on me suddenly ; stunned me. A bolt 
out of a clear sky, as they say. He spared me a scene. 
There had been threats, and yet the sky was clear, or 
seemed. When we have a man for arbiter, he is our 
sky.' 

Emma pressed her Tony's unresponsive hand, feeling 
strangely that her friend ebbed from her. 

'Has he ... to mislead him?' she said, colouring at 
the breach in the question. 

'Proofs? He has the proofs he supposes.' 

'Not to justify suspicion?' 

'He broke open my desk and took my letters.' 

' Horrible ! But the letters ? ' Emma shook with a 
nervous revulsion. 

'You might read them.' 

'Basest of men! That is the unpardonable coward- 
ice !' exclaimed Emma. 

'The world will read them, dear,' said Diana, and 
struck herself to ice. 

She broke from the bitter frigidity in fury. ' They are 
letters — ^none very long — sometimes two short sentences 
— ^he wrote at any spare moment. On my honour, as a 
woman, I feel for him most. The letters — I would bear 
any accusation rather than that exposure. Letters of a 
man of his age to a young woman he rates too highly! 



BETWEEN EMMA AND DIANA 131 

The world reads them. Do you hear it sajdng it could 
have excused her for that fiddle-faddle with a younger — 
a young lover ? And had I thought of a lover ! . . . I 
had no thought of loving or being loved. I confess I was 
flattered. To you, Emma, I will confess. . . . You see 
the public ridicule ! — and half his age, he and I would 
have appeared a romantic couple! Confess, I said. 
Well, dear, the stake is lighted for a trial of its effect on 
me. It is this : he was never a dishonourable friend ; 
but men appear to be capable of friendship with women 
only for as long as we keep out of pulling distance of that 
line where friendship ceases. They may step on it ; we 
must hold back a league. I have learnt it. You wiU 
judge whether he disrespects me. As for him, he is a 
man; at his worst, not one of the worst; at his best, 
better than very many. There, now, Emma, you have 
me stripped and burning; there is my full confession. 
Except for this — yes, one thing further — that I do rage 
at the ridicule, and could choose, but for you, to have 
given the world cause to revile me, or think me romantic. 
Something or somebody to suffer for would really be 
agreeable. It is a singular fact, I have not known what 
this love is, that they talk about. And behold me 
marched into Smithfield ! — society's heretic, if you 
please. I must own I think it hard.' 

Emma chafed her cold hand softly 

'It is hard; I understand it,' she murmured. 'And 
is your Sunday visit to us in the list of offences?' 

'An item.' 

'You gave me a happy day.' 

'Then it covmts for me in heaven.' 

'He set spies on you?' 

'So we may pregimie.' 

Emma Went through a sphere of tenuious reflections in 
a flash. 



132 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'He will rue it. Perhaps now ... he may now be 
regretting his wretched frenzy. And Tony could pardon ; 
she has the power of pardoning in her heart.' 

'Oh ! certainly, dear. But tell me why it is you speak 
to-night rather unlike the sedate, philosophical Emma ; in 
a tone — well, tolerably sentimental?' 

'I am unaware of it,' said Emma, who could have 
retorted with a like reproach. 'I am anxious, I will 
not say at preseht for your happiness, for your peace; 
and I have a hope that possibly a timely word from 
some friend — Lukin or another — might induce him to 
consider.' 

'To pardon me, do you mean?' cried Diana, flushing 
sternly. 

'Not pardon. Suppose a case of faults on both 
sides.' 

'You address a faulty person, my dear. But do you 
know that you are hinting at a reconcilement?' 

'Might it not be?' 

'Open your eyes to what it involves. I trust I can 
pardon. Let him go his ways, do his darkest, or repent. 
But return to the roof of the "basest of men," who was 
guilty of "the unpardonable cowardice"? You expect 
me to be superhuman. When I consent to that, I shall 
be out of my woman's skin, which he has branded. Go 
back to him !' She was taken with a shudder of head 
and limbs. 'No; I really have the power of pardoning, 
and I am bound to; for among my debts to him, this 
present exemption, that is like liberty dragging a chain, 
or, say, an escaped felon wearing his manacles, should 
count. I am sensible of my obligation. The price I pay 
for it is an immovable patch — attractive to male idiots, 
I have heard, and a mark of scorn to females. Between 
the two the remainder of my days will be lively. "Out, 
out, damned spot!" But it will not. And not on the 



BETWEEN EMMA AND DIANA 133 

hand — on the forehead ! We '11 talk of it no longer. I 
have sent a note, with an enclosure, to my lawyers. I 
sell The Crossways, if I have the married woman's 
right to any scrap of property, for money to scatter 
fees.' 

'My purse, dear Tony!' exclaimed Emma. 'My 
house! You will stay with me? Why do you shake 
your head? With me you are safe.' She spied at the 
shadows in her friend's face. ' Ever since your marriage, 
Tony, you have been strange in your trick of refusing to 
stay with me. And you and I made our friendship the 
pledge of a belief in eternity! We vowed it. Come, I 
do talk sentimentally, but my heart is in it. I beg you — 
all the reasons are with me — ^to make my house your 
home. You will. You know I am rather lonely.' 

Diana struggled to keep her resolution from being 
broken by tenderness. And doubtless poor Sir Lukin 
had learnt his lesson ; still, her defensive instincts could 
never quite slumber under his roof; not because of any 
further fear that they would have to be summoned; it 
was chiefly owing to the consequences of his treacherous 
foolishness. For this half-home with her friend thence- 
forward denied to her, she had accepted a protector, 
called husband — rashly, past credence, in the retrospect; 
but it had been her propelling motive ; and the loathings 
roused by her marriage helped to sicken her at the idea 
of a lengthened stay where she had suffered the shock 
precipitating her to an act of insanity. 

' I do not forget you were an heiress, Emmy, and I will 
come to you if I need money to keep my head up. As for 
staying, two reasons are against it. If I am to fight my 
battle, I must be seen ; I must go about — wherever I am 
received. So my field is London. That is obvious. 
And I shall rest better in a house where my story is not 
known.' 



134 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Two or three questions ensued. Diana had to fortifj 
her fictitious objection by alluding to her maid's prattk 
of the household below; and she excused the hapless, 
overfed, idle people of those regions. 

To Emma it seemed a not unnatural sensitive- 
ness. She came to a settled resolve in her thoughts, as 
she said, 'They want a change. London is theii 
element.' 

Feeling that she deceived this true heart, however 
lightly and necessarily, Diana warmed to her, forgiving 
her at last for having netted and dragged her back to 
front the enemy; an imposition of horrors, of which the 
scene and the travelling with Redworth, the talking ol 
her case with her most intimate friend as well, had been 
a distempering foretaste. 

They stood up and kissed, parting for the night. 

An odd world, where for the sin we have not partici- 
pated in we must fib and continue fibbing, she reflected. 
She did not entirely cheat her clearer mind, for she per- 
ceived that her step in flight had been urged both by a 
weak despondency and a blind desperation; also that 
the world of a fluid civilization is perforce artificial. 
But her mind was in the background of her fevered senses, 
and when she looked in the glass and mused on uttering 
the word, 'Liar!' to the lovely image, her senses were 
refreshed, her mind somewhat relieved, the face appeared 
so sovereignly defiant of abasement. 

Thus did a nature distraught by pain obtain some short 
lull of repose. Thus, moreover, by closely reading her- 
self, whom she scourged to excess that she might in justice 
be comforted, she gathered an increasing knowledge of 
our human constitution, and stored matter for the brain. 



THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION 135 
CHAPTER XIII 

TOUCHING THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION 

The result of her sleeping was, that Diana's humour, 
locked up overnight, insisted on an excursion, as she lay 
with half-buried head and open eyelids, thinking of the 
firm of lawyers she had to see ; and to whom, and to the 
legal profession generally, she would be, under outward 
courtesies, nothing other than 'the woman Warwick.' 
She pursued the woman Warwick unmercifully through a 
series of interviews with her decorous and crudely-minded 
defenders ; accurately perusing them behind their senior 
staidness. Her scorching sensitiveness sharpened her 
intelligence in regard to the estimate of discarded wives 
entertained by men of business and plain men of the world, 
and she drove the woman Warwick down their ranks, 
amazed by the vision of a puppet so unlike to herself in 
reality, though identical in situation. That woman, re- 
citing her side of the case, gained a gradual resemblance to 
Danvers; she spoke primly; perpetually the creature 
aired her handkerchief; she was bent on softening those 
sugarloaves, the hard business-men applying to her for 
facts. Facts were treated as unworthy of her; mere 
stuff of the dustheap, mutton-bones, old shoes ; she swam 
above them in a cocoon of her spinning, sylphidine, un- 
seizable; and between perplexing and mollifying the 
slaves of facts, she saw them at their heels, a tearful fry, 
abjectly imitative of her melodramatic performances. 
The spectacle was presented of a band of legal gentlemen 
vociferating mightily for swords and the onset, like the 
Austrian empress's Magyars, to vindicate her just and 
iioly cause. Our Law-courts failing, they threatened 



136 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Parliament, and for a last resort, the country ! We are 
not going to be the woman Warwick without a stir, my 
brethren. 

Emma, an early riser that morning, for the purpose 
of a private consultation with Mr. Redworth, found her 
lying placidly wakeful, to judge by appearances. 

'You have not slept, my dear child?' 

'Perfectly,' said Diana, giving her hand and offering 
the lips. ' I 'm only having a warm morning bath in 
bed,' she added, in explanation of a chill moisture that 
the touch of her exposed skin betrayed; for whatever 
the fun of the woman Warwick, there had been sym- 
pathetic feminine horrors in the frame of the sentient 
woman. 

Emma fancied she kissed a quiet suJBferer. A few re- 
marks very soon set her wildly laughing. Both were 
laughing when Danvers entered the room, rather guilty, 
being late; and the sight of the prim-visaged maid she 
had been driving among the lawyers kindled Diana's 
comic imagination to such a pitch that she ran riot 
in drolleries, carrying her* friend headlong on the 
tide. 

'I have not laughed so much since you were married,' 
said Emma. 

'Nor I, dear; — proving that the bar to it was the 
ceremony,' said Diana. 

She promised to remain at Copsley three days. 'Then 
for the campaign in Mr. Redworth's metropolis. I 
wonder whether I may ask him to get me lodgings: a 
sitting-room and two bedrooms. The Crossways has a 
board up for letting. I should prefer to be my own 
tenant; only it would give me a hundred pounds more 
to get a substitute's money. I should like to be at work 
writing instantly. Ink is my opium, and the pen 
my nigger, and he must dig up gold for me. It is 



THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION 137 

written. DanverS) you can make ready to dress me when 
I ring.' 

Emma helped the beautiful woman to her dressing- 
gown and the step from her bed. She had her thoughts, 
and went down to Redworth at the breakfast-table, 
marvelling that any husband other than a madman 
could cast such a jewel away. The material loveliness 
eclipses intellectual qualities in such reflections. 

'He must be mad,' she said, compelled to disburden 
herself in a congenial atmosphere; which, however, she 
infrigidated by her overflow of exclamatory wonderment 
— a curtain that shook voluminous folds, luring Redworth 
to dreams of the treasure forfeited. He became rigidly 
practical. 

' Provision will have to be made for her. Lukin must 
see Mr. Warwick. She will do wisely to stay with friends 
in town, mix in company. Women are the best allies for 
such cases. Who are her solicitors?' 

'They are mine : Braddock, Thorpe, and Simnel.' 

'A good firm. She is in safe hands with them. I dare 
say they may come to an arrangement.' 

'I should wish it. She will never consent.' 

Redworth shrugged. A woman's 'never' fell far short 
of outstripping the sturdy pedestrian Time, to his mind. 

Diana saw him drive off to catch the coach in the 
valley, regulated to meet the train, and much though she 
liked him, she was not sorry that he had gone. She felt 
the better clad for it. She would have rejoiced to witness 
the departure on wings of all her friends, except Emma, to 
whom her coldness overnight had bound her anew 
warmly in contrition. And yet her friends were well- 
beloved by her ; but her emotions were distraught. 

Emma told her that Mr. Redworth had undertaken to 
hire a suite of convenient rooms, and to these she looked 
forward, the nest among strangers, where she could begin 



138 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

to write, earning bread : an idea that, with the pride of 
independence, conjured the pleasant morning smell of a 
bakery about her. 

She passed three peaceable days at Copsley, at war only 
with the luxury of the house. On the fourth, a letter to 
Lady Dunstane from Redworth gave the address of the 
best lodgings he could find, and Diana started for London. 

She had during a couple of weeks, besides the first fresh 
exercising of her pen, as well as the severe gratification of 
economy, a savage exultation in passing through the 
streets on foot and unknown. Save for the plunges into 
the office of her solicitors, she could seem to herself a 
woman who had never submitted to the yoke. What a 
pleasure it was, "ifter finishing a number of pages, to start 
Eastward toward the lawyer-regions, full of imaginary 
cropping incidents, and from that churchyard Westward, 
against smoky sunsets, or in welcome fogs, an atom of the 
crowd ! She had an affection for the crowd. They 
clothed her. She laughed at the gloomy forebodings of 
Danvers concerning the perils environing ladies in the 
streets after dark alone. The lights in the streets after 
dark and the quick running of her blood, combined to 
strike sparks of fancy and inspirit the task of composition 
at night. This new, strange, solitary life, cut off from 
her adulatory society, both by the shock that made the 
abyss and by the utter foreignness, threw her in upon her 
natural forces, recasting her, and thinning away her 
memory of her past days, excepting girlhood, into the 
remote. She lived with her girlhood as with a simple 
little sister. They were two in one, and she corrected 
the dreams of the younger, protected and counselled her 
very sagely, advising her to love Truth and look always 
to Reality for her refreshment. She was ready to say, 
that no habitable spot on our planet was healthier and 
pleasanter than London. As to the perils haunting the 



THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION 139 

head of Danvers, her experiences assured her of a perfect 
immunity from them; and the maligned thoroughfares 
of a great city, she was ready to affirm, contrasted 
favourably with certain hospitable halls. 

The long-suffering Fates permitted her for a term to 
enjoy the generous delusion. Subsequently a sweet sur- 
prise alleviated the shock she had sustained. Emma 
Dunstane's carriage was at her door, and Emma entered 
her sitting-room, to tell her of having hired a house in the 
neighbourhood, looking on the park. She begged to 
have her for guest, sorrowfully anticipating the refusal. 
At least they were to be near one another. 

'You really like this life in lodgings?' asked Emma, 
to whom the stiff furniture and narrow apartments were 
a dreariness, the miserably small fire of the sitting-room 
an aspect of cheerless winter. 

'I do,' said Diana; 'yes,' she added with some reserve, 
and smUed at her damped enthusiasm, ' I can eat when I 
like, walk, work — and I am working ! My legs and my 
pen demand it. Let me be independent ! Besides, I 
begin to learn something of the bigger world outside the 
one I know, and I crush my mincing tastes. In return for 
that, I get a sense of strength I had not when I was a 
drawing-room exotic. Much is repulsive. But I am 
taken with a passion for reality.' 

They spoke of the lawyers, and the calculated period of 
the trial; of the husband too, in his inciting belief in 
the falseness of his wife. 'That is his excuse,' Diana 
said, her closed mouth meditatively dimpling the corners 
over thoughts of his grounds for fury. He had them, 
though none for the incriminating charge. The Sphinx 
mouth of the married woman at war and at bay must be 
left unriddled. She and the law differed in their inter- 
pretation of the dues of wedlock. 
• But matters' referring to her case were secondary with 



140 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Diana beside the importance of her storing impressions. 
Her mind required to hunger for something, and this 
Reality which frequently she was forced to loathe, she 
forced herself proudly to accept, despite her youthfulness. 
Her philosophy swallowed it in the lump, as the great 
serpent his meal ; she hoped to digest it sleeping likewise. 
Her visits of curiosity to the Law Courts, where she stood 
spying and listening behind a veil, gave her a great deal 
of tough substance to digest. There she watched the 
process of the tortures to be applied to herself, and 
hardened her senses for the ordeal. She saw there the 
ribbed and shanked old skeleton world on which our fair 
fleshly is moulded. After all, your Fool's Paradise is not 
a garden to grow in. Charon's ferry-boat is not thicker 
with phantoms. They do not live in mind or soul. 
Chiefly women people it : a certain class of limp men ; 
women for the most part: they are sown there. And 
put their garden under the magnifying glass of intimacy, 
what do we behold? A world not better than the world 
it curtains, only foolisher. 

Her conversations with Lady Dunstane brought her at 
last to the point of her damped enthusiasm. She related 
an incident or two occurring in her career of independence, 
and they discussed our state of civilization plainly and 
gravely, save for the laughing peals her phrases occasion- 
ally provoked; as when she named the intruders and 
disturbers of solitarily-faring ladies, 'Cupid's footpads.' 
Her humour was created to swim on waters where a 
prescribed and cultivated prudery should pretend to be 
drowning. 

'I was getting an exalted idea of English gentlemen, 
Emmy. "Rich and rare were the gems she wore." I 
was ready to vow that one might traverse the larger island 
similarly respected. I praised their chivalry. I thought 
it a privilege to live in such a land. I cannot describe to 



THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION 141 

you how delightfulMt was to me to walk out and home 
generally protected. I might have been seriously annoyed 
but that one of the clerks — "articled," he called himself — 
of our lawyers happened to be by. He offered to guard 
me, and was amusing with his modest tiptoe air. No, 
I trust to the English common man more than ever. He 
is a man of honour. I am convinced he is matchless in 
any other country, except Ireland. The English gentle- 
man trades on his reputation.' 

He was condemned by an afflicted delicacy, the sharpest 
of critical tribunals. 

Emma bade her not to be too sweeping from a bad 
example. 

'It is not a single one,' said Diana. 'What vexes me 
and frets me is, that I must be a prisoner, or allow 
Danvers to mount guard. And I can't see the end of it. 
And Danvers is no magician. She seems to know her 
countrymen, though. She warded one of them off, by 
saying to me : "This is the crossing, my lady." He fled.' 

Lady Dunstane affixed the popular title to the latter 
kind of gentleman. She was irritated on her friend's 
behalf, and against the worrying of her sisterhood, think- 
ing in her heart, nevertheless, that the passing of a face 
and figure like Diana's might inspire honourable emotions, 
pitiable for being hapless. 

'If you were with me, dear, you would have none of 
these annoyances,' she said, pleading forlornly. 

Diana smiled to herself. ' No ! I should relapse into 
softness. This life exactly suits my present temper. My 
landlady is respectful and attentive ; the little housemaid 
is a willing slave; Danvers does not despise them pug- 
naciously ; they make a home for me, and I am learning 
daily. Do you know, the less ignorant I become, the 
more considerate I am for the ignorance of others — I love 
.them for it.' She squeezed Emma's hand with more 



142 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

meaning than her friend apprehended. 'So I win my 
advantage from the trifles I have to endure. They are 
really trifles, and I should once have thought them 
mountains!' 

For the moment Diana stipulated that she might not 
have to encounter friends or others at Lady Dunstane's 
dinner-table, and the season not being favourable to those 
gatherings planned by Lady Dunstane ia her project of 
winning supporters, there was a respite, during which 
Sir Lukin worked manfully at his three Clubs to vindicate 
Diana's name from the hummers and hawers, gaining 
half a dozen hot adherents, and a body of lukewarm, 
sufficiently stirred to be desirous to see the lady. He 
worked with true champion zeal, although an interview 
granted him by the husband settled his opinion as to any 
possibility of the two ever coming to terms. Also it 
struck him that if he by misadventure had been a woman 
and the wife of such a fellow, by Jove ! . . . — ^his apos- 
trophe to the father of the gods of pagandom signifying 
the amount of matter Warwick would have had reason to- 
complain of in earnest. By ricochet his military mind 
rebounded from his knowledge of himself to an ardent 
faith in Mrs. Warwick's innocence; for, as there was na 
resemblance between them, there must, he deduced, be a. 
difference in their capacity for enduring the perpetual 
company of a prig, a stick, a petrified poser. Moreover,, 
the novel act of advocacy, and the nature of the advocacy,, 
had effect on him. And then he recalled the scene in the 
winter beech-woods, and Diana's wild-deer eyes; her 
perfect generosity to a traitor and fool. How could he 
have doubted her? Glimpses of the corrupting cause for 
it partly penetrated his density: a conqueror of ladies, 
in mid career, doubts them all. Of course he had meant 
no harm, nothing worse than some petty philandering 
with the loveliest woman of her time. And, by Jove I 



THE FIRST DAYS OF HER PROBATION 143 

it was worth the rebuff to behold the Beauty in her 
wrath. 

The reflections of Lothario, however much tending 
tardily to do justice to a particular lady, cannot terminate 
wholesomely. But he became a gallant partisan. His 
portrayal of Mr. Warwick to his wife and his friends was 
fine caricature. 'The fellow had his hand up at my first 
word — stood like a sentinel under inspection. "Under- 
stand, Sir Lukin, that I receive you simply as an acquaint- 
ance. As an intermediary, permit me to state that 
you are taking superfluous trouble. The case must 
proceed. It is final. She is at liberty, in the meantime, 
to draw on my bankers for the provision she ECiay need, 
at the rate of five hundred pounds per annum." He 
spoke of "the lady now bearing my name." He was 
within an inch of saying "dishonouring." I swear I 
heard the "dis," and he caught himself up. He "again 
declined any attempt towards reconciliation." It could 
"only be founded on evasion of the truth to be made 
patent on the day of trial." Half his talk was lawyers' 
lingo. The fellow's teeth looked like frost. If Lot's wife 
had a brother, his name 's Warwick. How Diana Merion, 
who could have had the pick of the best of us, ever came 
to marry a fellow like that, passes my comprehension, 
queer creatures as women are ! He can ride ; that 's 
about all he can do. I told him Mrs. Warwick had no 
thought of reconciliation. "Then, Sir Lukin, you wUl 
perceive that we have no standpoint for a discussion." I 
told him the point was, for a man of honour not to drag 
his wife before the public, as he had no case to stand on — 
less than nothing. You should have seen the fellow's 
face. He shot a sneer up to his eyelids, and flung his 
head back. So I said, "Good-day." He marches me to 
the door, "with his compliments to Lady Dunstane." 
J could have floored him for that. Bless my soul, what 



144 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

fellows the world is made of, when here 's a man, calling 
himself a gentleman, who, just because he gets in a rage 
with his wife for one thing or another — and past all com- 
petition the handsomest woman of her day, and the 
cleverest, the nicest, the best of the whole boiling — has her 
out for a public horsewhipping, and sets all the idiots of 
the kingdom against her! I tried to reason with him. 
He made as if he were going to sleep standing.' 

Sir Lukin gratified Lady Dunstane by his honest cham- 
pionship of Diana. And now, in his altered mood (the 
thrice indebted rogue was just cloudily conscious of a 
desire to propitiate his dear wife by serving her friend), 
he began a crusade against the scandal-newspapers, going 
with an Irish military comrade straight to the editorial 
offices, and leaving his card and a warning that the chas- 
tisement for print of the name of the lady in their columns 
would be personal and condign. Captain Carew Mahony, 
albeit unacquainted with Mrs. Warwick, had espoused 
her cause. She was a woman, she was an Irishwoman, 
she was a beautiful woman. She had, therefore, three 
positive claims on him as a soldier and a man. Other 
Irish gentlemen, animated by the same swelling degrees, 
were awaking to the intimation that they might be wanted. 
Some words were dropped here and there by General Lord 
Larrian : he regretted his age and infirmities. A goodly 
regiment for a bodyguard might have been selected to 
protect her steps in the public streets, when it was bruited 
that the General had sent her a present of his great New- 
foundland dog, Leander, to attend on her and impose a 
required respect. But as it chanced that her address 
was unknown to the volunteer constabulary, they had 
to assuage their ardour by thinking the dog luckier than 
they. 

The report of the dog was a fact. He arrived one morn- 
ing at Diana's lodgings, with a soldier to lead him, and a 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 145 

card to introduce : the Hercules of dogs, a very ideal of 
the species, toweringly big, benevolent, reputed a rescuer 
of lives, disdainful of dog-fighting, devoted to his guar- 
dian's office, with a majestic paw to give and the noblest 
satisfaction in receiving caresses ever expressed by mortal 
male enfolded about the head, kissed, patted, hugged, 
snuggled, informed that he was his new mistress's one 
love and darling. 

She despatched a thrilling note of thanks to Lord 
Larrian, sure of her touch upon an Irish heart. 

The dog Leander soon responded to the attachment of 
a mistress enamoured of him. ' He is my husband,' she 
said to Emma, and started a tear in the eyes of her smiling 
friend; 'he promises to trust me, and never to have the 
law of me, and to love my friends as his own ; so we are 
certain to agree.' In rain, snow, sunshine, through the 
parks and the streets, he was the shadow of Diana, com- 
manding, on the whole, apart from some desperate at- 
tempts to make him serve as introducer, a civilized be- 
haviour in the legions of Cupid's footpads. But he helped, 
innocently enough, to create an enemy. 



CHAPTER XIV 

GIVING GLIMPSES OP DIANA UNDER HEK CLOUD BEFORE 
THE WORLD AND OF HER FURTHER APPRENTICESHIP 

As the day of her trial became more closely calculable, 
Diana's anticipated alarms receded with the deadening of 
her heart to meet the shock. She fancied she had put on 
proof-armour, unconscious that it was the turning of the 
inward flutterer to steel, which supplied her cuirass and 
shield. The necessity to brave society, in the character 



146 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

of honest Defendant, caused but a momentary twitch of 
the nerves. Her heart beat regularly, like a serviceable 
clock ; none of her faculties abandoned her save songful- 
ness, and none belied her, excepting a disposition to tart- 
ness almost venomous in the sarcastic shafts she let fly_ 
at friends interceding with Mr. Warwick to spare his wife, 
when she had determined to be tried. A strange fit of 
childishness overcame her powers of thinking, and was 
betrayed in her manner of speaking, though to herself 
her dwindled humour allowed her to appear the towering 
Britomart. She pouted contemptuously on hearing that 
a Mr. Sullivan Smith (a remotely recollected figure) had 
besought Mr. Warwick for an interview, and gained it, by 
stratagem, ' to bring the man to his senses ' : but an 
ultra-Irishman did not compromise her battle-front, as 
the busybody supplications of a personal friend like Mr. 
Redworth did; and that the latter, without consulting 
her, should be 'one of the plaintive crew whining about 
the heels of the Plaintiff for a mercy she disdained and 
rejected' was bitter to her taste. 

' He does not see that unless I go through the fire there 
is no justification for this wretched character of mine!' 
she exclaimed. Truce, treaty, withdrawal, signified 
publicly pardon, not exoneration by any means; and 
now that she was in armour she had no dread of the 
public. So she said. Redworth's being then engaged 
upon the canvass of a borough, added to the absurdity 
of his meddling with the dilemmas of a woman. 'Dear 
me, Emma! think of stepping aside from the parlia- 
mentary road to entreat a husband to relent, and arrange 
the domestic alliance of a contrary couple ! Quixottry is 
agreeable reading, a silly performance.' Lady Dunstane 
pleaded his friendship. She had to quit the field where 
such darts were showering. 

The first dinner-party was aristocratic, easy to 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 147 

encounter. Lord and Lady Crane, Lady Pennon, Lord 
and Lady Esquart, Lord Larrian, Mr. and Mrs. Montvert 
of Halford Manor, Lady Singleby, Sir Walter Capperston : 
friends, admirers of Diana ; patrons, in the phrase of the 
time, of her father, were the guests. Lady Pennon ex- 
pected to be amused, and was gratified, for Diana had 
only to open her mouth to set the great lady laughing. 
She petitioned to have Mrs. Warwick at her table that 
day week, because the marquis was dying to make her 
acquaintance, and begged to have all her sayings re- 
peated to him; vowed she must be salt in the desert. 
'And remember, I back you through thick and thin,' 
said Lady Pennon. To which Diana replied: 'If I am 
salt in the desert, you are the spring' ; and the old lady 
protested she must put that down for her book. The 
witty Mrs. Warwick, of whom wit was expected, had 
many incitements to be guilty of cheap wit; and the 
beautiful Mrs. Warwick, being able to pass anything she 
uttered, gave good and bad alike, under the impulsion 
to give out something, that the stripped and shivering 
Mrs. Warwick might find a cover in applause. She dis- 
covered the social uses of cheap wit ; she laid ambushes 
for anecdotes, a teUing form of it among a people of no 
conversational interlocution, especially in the circles de- 
pending for dialogue upon perpetual fresh supplies of 
scandal; which have plentiful crops, yet not suflacient. 
The old dinner and supper tables at The Crossways fur- 
nished her with an abundant store; and recollection 
failing, she invented. Irish anecdotes are always popular 
in England, as promoting, besides the wholesome shake 
of the sides, a kindly sense of superiority. Anecdotes 
also are portable, unlike the lightning flash, which will 
not go into the pocket; they can be carried home, they 
are disbursable at other tables. These were Diana's 
weapons. She was perforce the actress of her part. 



148 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

In happier times, when light of heart and natural, her 
vogue had not been so enrapturing. Doubtless Cleo- 
patra in her simple Egyptian uniform would hardly have 
won such plaudits as her stress of barbaric Oriental 
splendours evoked for her on the swan and serpent Nile- 
barge — not from posterity at least. It is a terrible decree, 
that all must act who would prevail; and the more ex- 
tended the audience, the greater need for the mask and 
buskin. 

From Lady Pennon's table Diana passed to Lady 
Crane's, Lady Esquart's, Lady Singleby's, the Duchess 
of Raby's, warmly clad in the admiration she excited. 
She appeared at Princess Th^rSse Paryli's first ball of the 
season, and had her circle, not of worshippers only. She 
did not dance. The princess, a fair Austrian, benevolent 
to her sisterhood, an admirer of Diana's contrasting com- 
plexion, would have had her dance once in a quadrille 
of her forming, but yielded to the mute expression of 
the refusal. Wherever Mrs. Warwick went, her arts of 
charming were addressed to the women. Men may be 
counted on for falling bowled over by a handsome face 
and pointed tongue; women require some wooing from 
their ensphered and charioted sister, particularly if she 
is clouded; and old women — excellent buttresses — must 
be suavely courted. Now, to woo the swimming matron 
and court the settled dowager, she had to win forgiveness 
for her beauty; and this was done, easily done, by for- 
bearing to angle with it in the press of nibblers. They 
ranged about her, individually unnoticed. Seeming 
unaware of its effect where it kindled, she smote a number 
of musical female chords, compassion among them. A 
general grave affability of her eyes and smUes was taken 
for quiet pleasure in the scene. Her fitful intentness of 
look when conversing with the older ladies told of the 
mind within at work upon what they said, and she was 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 149 

careful that plain dialogue should make her compre- 
hensible to them. Nature taught her these arts, through 
which her wit became extolled entirely on the strength of 
her reputation, and her beauty did her service by never 
taking aim abroad. They are the woman's arts of self- 
defence, as legitimately and honourably hers as the man- 
ful use of the fists with a coarser sex. If it had not been 
nature that taught her the practice of them in extremity, 
the sagacious dowagers would have seen brazenness 
rather than innocence — or an excuseable indiscretion — 
in the part she was performing. They are not lightly 
duped by one of their sex. Few tasks are more difficult 
than for a young woman under a cloud to hoodwink old 
women of the world. They are the prey of financiers; 
but Time has presented them a magic ancient glass to 
scan their sex in. 

At Princess Paryli's Ball two young men of singular 
elegance were observed by Diana, little though she con- 
centered her attention on any figures of the groups. She 
had the woman's faculty (transiently bestowed by per- 
fervid jealousy upon men) of distinguishing minutely in 
the calmest of indifferent glances. She could see without 
looking; and when her eyes were wide they had not to 
dwell to be detective. It did not escape her that the 
Englishman of the two hurried for the chance of an intro- 
duction, nor that he suddenly, after putting a question 
to a man beside him, retired. She spoke of them to 
Emma as they drove home. 'The princess's partner in 
the first quadrille . . . Hungarian, I suppose? He 
was like a Tartar modelled by a Greek: supple as the 
Scythian's bow, braced as the string ! He has the air 
of a born horseman, and valses perfectly. I won't say 
he was handsomer than a young Englishman there, 
but he had the advantage of soldierly training. How 
different is that quick springy figure from our young 



150 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

men's lounging style! It comes of military exercise 
and discipline.' 

'That was Count Jochany, a cousin of the princess, 
and a cavalry officer,' said Emma. 'You don't know 
the other? I am sure the one you mean must be Percy 
Dacier.' 

His retiring was explained : the Hon. Percy Dacier was 
the nephew of Lord Dannisburgh, often extolled to her as 
the promising youngster of his day, with the reserve that 
he wasted his youth: for the young gentleman was 
decorous and studious; ambitious, according to report; 
a politician taking to politics much too seriously and 
exclusively to suit his uncle's pattern for the early period 
of life. Uncle and nephew went their separate ways, 
rarely meeting, though their exchange of esteem was 
cordial. 

Thinking over his abrupt retirement from the crowded 
semicircle, Diana felt her position pinch her, she knew 
not why. 

Lady Dunstane was as indefatigable by day as by night 
in the business of acting goddess to her beloved Tony, 
whom she assured that the service, instead of exhausting, 
gave her such healthfulness as she had imagined herself 
to have lost for ever. The word was passed, and invita- 
tions poured in to choice conversational breakfasts, 
private afternoon concerts, all the humming season's 
assemblies. Mr. Warwick's treatment of his wife was 
taken by implication for lunatic; wherever she was 
heard or seen, he had no case ; a jury of some hundreds 
of both sexes, ready to be sworn, pronounced against him. 
Only the personal enemies of the lord in the suit presumed 
to doubt, and they exercised the discretion of a minority. 

But there is an upper middle class below the aristo- 
cratic, boasting an aristocracy of morals, and eminently 
persuasive of public opinion, if not commanding it. 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 151 

Previous to the relaxation, by amendment, of a certain 
legal process, this class was held to represent the austerity 
of the country. At present a relaxed austerity is repre- 
sented; and stUl the bulk of the members are of fair 
repute, though not quite on the level of their pretensions. 
They were then, while more sharply divided from the 
titular superiors they are socially absorbing, very power- 
ful to brand a woman's character, whatever her rank 
might be; having innumerable agencies and avenues 
for that high purpose, to say nothing of the printing-press. 
Lady Dunstane's anxiety to draw them over to the cause 
of her friend set her thinking of the influential Mrs. Cram- 
borne Wathin, with whom she was distantly connected; 
the wife of a potent serjeant-at-law fast mounting to the 
Bench and knighthood; the centre of a circle, and not 
strangely that, despite her deficiency in the arts and 
graces, for she had wealth and a cook, a husband proud 
of his wine-cellar, and the ambition to rule; all the 
rewards, together with the expectations, of the virtuous. 
She was a lady of incisive features bound in stale parch- 
ment. Complexion she had none, but she had spotless- 
ness of skin, and sons and daughters just resembling her, 
like cheaper editions of a precious quarto of a perished 
type. You discerned the imitation of the type, you 
acknowledged the inferior compositor. Mr. Cramborne 
Wathin was by birth of a grade beneath his wife; he 
sprang (behind a curtain of horror) from tradesmen. The 
Bench was in designation for him to wash out the stain, 
but his children suffered in large hands and feet, short 
legs, excess of bone, prominences misplaced. Their 
mother inspired them carefully with the religion she 
opposed to the pretensions of a nobler blood, while in- 
stilling into them that the blood they drew from her was 
territorial, far above the vulgar. Her appearance and 
her principles fitted her to stand for the Puritan rich of 



152 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the period, emerging by the aid of an extending wealth 
into luxurious worldliness, and retaining the maxims of 
their forefathers for the discipline of the poor and erring. 

Lady Dunstane called on her, ostensibly to let her 
know she had taken a house in town for the season, and 
in the course of the chat Mrs. Cramborne Wathin was 
invited to dinner. 'You will meet my dear friend, Mrs. 
Warwick,' she said, and the reply was: 'Oh, I have 
heard of her.' 

The formal consultation with Mr. Cramborne Wathin 
ended ia an agreement to accept Lady Dunstane's kind 
invitation. 

Considering her husband's plenitude of old legal anec- 
dotes, and her own diligent perusal of the funny publica- 
tions of the day, that she might be on the level of the wits 
and celebrities she entertained, Mrs. Cramborne Wathin 
had a right to expect the leading share in the conversation 
to which she was accustomed. Every honour was paid 
to them; they met aristocracy in the persons of Lord 
Larrian, of Lady Rockden, Colonel Purlby, the Petti- 
grews, but neither of them held the table for a moment; 
the topics flew, and were no sooner up than down ; they 
were unable to get a shot. They had to eat in silence, 
occasionally griimiag, because a woman labouring under 
a stigma would rattle-rattle, as if the laughter of the 
company were her due, and decency beneath her notice. 
Some one alluded to a dog of Mrs. Warwick's, whereupon 
she trips out a story of her dog's amazing intelligence. 

'And pray,' said Mrs. Cramborne Wathin across the 
table, merely to slip in a word, ' what is the name of this 
wonderful dog?' 

'His name is Leander,' said Diana. 

' Oh, Leander. I don't think I hear myself calling to a 
dog in a name of three syllables. Two at the most.' 

' No, so I call Hero ! if I want him to come immediately,* 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 153 

said Diana, and the gentlemen, to Mrs. Cramborne 
Wathin's astonishment, acclaimed it. Mr. Redworth, 
at her elbow, explained the point, to her disgust. 

That was Diana's offence. 

If it should seem a small one, let it be remembered that 
a snub was intended, and was foiled ; and foiled with an 
apparent simplicity, enough to exasperate, had there 
been no laughter of men to back the countering stroke. 
A woman under a cloud, she talked, pushed to shine; 
she would be heard, would be applauded. Her chronicler 
must likewise admit the error of her giving way to a 
petty sentiment of antagonism on first beholding Mrs. 
Cramborne Wathin, before whom she at once resolved to 
be herself, for a holiday, instead of acting demurely to 
conciliate. Probably it was an antagonism of race, the 
shrinking of the skin from the burr. But when Tre- 
mendous Powers are invoked, we should treat any simple 
revulsion of our blood as a vice. The Gods of this world's ] 
contests demand it of us, in relation to them, that the/ 
mind, and not the instincts, shall be at work. Otherwise 
the course of a prudent policy is never to invoke them,> 
but avoid. 

The upper class was gained by her intrepidity, her 
charm, and her elsewhere offending wit, however the case 
might go. It is chivalrous, but not, alas, inflammable in 
support of innocence. The class below it is governed in 
estimates of character by accepted patterns of conduct; 
yet where innocence under persecution is believed to 
exist, the members animated by that belief can be enthusi- 
astic. Enthusiasm is a heaven-sent steeplechaser, and 
takes a flying leap of the ordinary barriers; it is more 
intrusive than chivalry, and has a passion to commimi- 
cate its ardour. Two letters from stranger ladies reached 
Diana, through her lawyers and Lady Dunstane. Anony- 
mous letters, not so welcome, being male effusions. 



154 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

arrived at her lodgings, one of them comical almost over 
the verge to pathos in its termination: 'To me you will 
ever be the Goddess Diana — my faith in woman !' 

He was unacquainted with her ! 

She had not the heart to think the writers donkeys. 
How they obtained her address was a puzzle ; they stole 
in to comfort her slightly. They attached her to her 
position of Defendant by the thought of what would have 
been the idea of her character if she had flown — a re- 
flection emanating from inexperience of the resources of 
sentimentalists. 

If she had flown ! She was borne along by the tide like 
a butterfly that a fish may gobble unless a friendly hand 
shall intervene. And could it in nature? She was past 
expectation of release. The attempt to imagine living 
with any warmth of blood in her vindicated character, 
for the sake of zealous friends, consigned her to a cold and 
empty house upon a foreign earth. She had to set her 
mind upon the mysterious enshrouded Twelve, with 
whom the verdict would soon be hanging, that she might 
prompt her human combativeness to desire the vindica- 
tion at such a price as she would have to pay for it. 
When Emma Dunstane spoke to her of the certainty of 
triumphing, she suggested a possible dissentient among 
the fateful Twelve, merely to escape the drumming 
sound of that hollow big word. The irreverent imp of 
her humour came to her relief by calling forth the Twelve, 
in the tone of the clerk of the Court, and they answered 
to their names of trades and crafts after the manner of 
Titania's elves, and were questioned as to their fitness, by 
education, habits, enlightenment, to pronounce decisivelj' 
upon the case in dispute, the case being plainly stated. 
They replied, that the long habit of dealing with scales 
enabled them to weigh the value of evidence the most 
delicate. Moreover, they were Englishmen, and any- 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 155 

thing short of downright bullet facts went to favour the 
woman. For thus we right the balance of legal injustice 
toward the sex: we conveniently wink, ma'am. A 
rough, old-fashioned way for us ! Is it a Breach of 
Promise ? — She may reckon on her damages : we have 
daughters of our own. Is it a suit for Divorce? — Well, 
we have wives of our own, and we can lash, or we can 
spare ; that 's as it may be ; but we '11 keep the couple 
tied, let 'em hate as they like, if they can't furnish pork- 
butchers' reasons for simdering ; because the man makes 
the money in this country. — My goodness ! what a funny 
people, sir ! — It 's our way of holding the balance, ma'am. 
— But would it not be better to rectify the law and the 
social system, dear sir? — Why, ma'am, we find it com- 
fortabler to take cases as they come, in the style of our 
fathers. — But don't you see, my good man, that you are 
offering scapegoats for the comfort of the majority? — 
Well, ma'am, there always were scapegoats, and always 
will be ; we find it comes round pretty square in the end. 

'And I may be the scapegoat, Emmy ! It is perfectly 
possible. The grocer, the porkbutcher, drysalter, 
stationer, tea-merchant, et caetera — ^they sit on me. I 
have studied the faces of the juries, and Mr. Braddock 
tells me of their composition. And he admits that they 
do justice roughly — ^a rough and tumble country! to 
quote him — ^though he says they are honest in intention.' 

' More shame to the man who drags you before them — 
if he persists !' Enama rejoined. 

'He will. I know him. I would not have bim draw 
back now,' said Diana, catching her breath. 'And, dear- 
est, do not abuse him ; for if you do, you set me imagining 
guiltiness. Oh, heaven ! — suppose me publicly pardoned ! 
No, I have kinder feelings when we stand opposed. It is 
odd, and rather frets my conscience, to think of the little 
resentment I feel. Hardly any ! He has not cause to 



156 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

like his wife. I can own it, and I am sorry for him, 
heartily. No two have ever come together so naturally 
antagonistic as we two. We walked a dozen steps in 
stupefied union, and hit upon crossways. From that 
moment it was tug and tug; he me, I him. By resist- 
ing, I made him a tyrant; and he, by insisting, made 
me a rebel. And he was the maddest of tyrants — a weak 
one. My dear, he was also a double-dealer. Or no, 
perhaps not in design. He was moved at one time by 
his interests ; at another by his idea of his honour. He 
took what I could get for him, and then turned and 
drubbed me for getting it.' 

'This is the creature you try to excuse!' exclaimed 
indignant Emma. 

'Yes, because — but fancy all the smart things I said 
being called my "sallies" ! — can a woman live with it? 
— ^because I behaved ... I despised him too much, and 
I showed it. He is not a contemptible man before the 
world; he is merely a very narrow one under close in- 
spection. I could not — or did not — conceal my feeling. 
I showed it not only to him, to my friend. Husband 
grew to mean to me stifler, lung-contractor, iron mask, 
inquisitor, everything anti-natural. He suffered under 
my "sallies": and it was the worse for him when he 
did not perceive their drift. He is an upright man; I 
have not seen marked meanness. One might build up 
a respectable figure in negatives. I could add a row of 
noughts to the single number he cherishes, enough to 
make a millionnaire of him; but strike away the first, 
the rest are wind. Which signifies, that if you do not 
take his estimate of himself, you will think little of his. 
negative virtues. He is not eminently, that is to say, 
not saliently, selfish; not rancorous, not obtrusive — ta- 
ta-ta-ta. But dull ! — dull as a woollen nightcap over 
eyes and ears and mouth. Oh ! an executioner's black 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 157 

cap to me. Dull, and suddenly staring awake to the 
idea of his honour. I "rendered" him ridiculous — ^I 
had caught a trick of "using men's phrases." Dearest, 
now that the day of trial draws nigh — you have never 
questioned me, and it was like you to spare me pain — 
but now I can speak of him and myself.' Diana dropped 
her voice. Here was another confession. The prox- 
imity of the trial acted like fire on her faded recollection 
of incidents. It may be that partly the shame of allud- 
ing to them had blocked her woman's memory. For 
one curious operation of the charge of guiltiness upon the 
nearly guiltless is to make them paint themselves pure 
white, to the obliteration of minor spots, until the white- 
ness being acknowledged, or the ordeal imminent, the 
spots recur and press upon their consciences. She re- 
sumed, in a rapid undertone : ' You know that a certain 
degree of independence had been, if not granted by him, 
conquered by me. I had the habit of it. Obedience 
with him is imprisonment — ^he is a blind wall. He re- 
ceived a commission, greatly to his advantage, and was 
absent. He seems to have received information of some 
sort. He returned imexpectedly, at a late hour, and 
attacked me at once, middling violent. My friend — and 
that he is ! — ^was coming from the House for a ten minutes' 
talk, as usual, on his way home, to refresh him after the 
long sitting and bear-baiting he had nightly to endure. 
Now let me confess : I grew frightened ; Mr. Warwick 
was "off his head," as they say — crazy, and I could not 
bear the thought of those two meeting. While he raged 
I threw open the window and put the lamp near it, to 
expose the whole interior — cunning as a veteran intriguer : 
horrible, but it had to be done to keep them apart. He 
asked me what madness possessed me, to sit by an open 
window at midnight, in view of the public, with a damp 
wind blowing. I complained of want of air and fanned 



158 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

my forehead. I heard the steps on the pavement; I 
stung him to retort loudly, and I was relieved ; the steps 
passed on. So the trick succeeded — the trick! It was 
the worst I was guilty of, but it was a trick, and it branded 
me trickster. It teaches me to see myself with an abyss 
in my nature full of infernal possibilities. I think I am 
hewn in black rock. A woman who can do as I did by 
instinct, needs to have an angel always near her, if she 
has not a husband she reveres.' 

'We are none of us better than you, dear Tony; only 
some are more fortunate, and many are cowards,' Emma 
said. 'You acted prudently in a wretched situation, 
partly of your own making, partly of the circumstances. 
But a nature like yours could not sit still and moan. That 
marriage was to blame ! The English notion of women 
seems to be that we are born white sheep or black; cir- 
cumstances have nothing to do with our colour. They 
dread to grant distinctions, and to judge of us discern- 
ingly is beyond them. Whether the fiction, that their 
homes are purer than elsewhere, helps to establish the 
fact, I do not know : there is a class that does live 
honestly; and at any rate it springs from a hking for 
purity ; but I am sure that their method of impressing it 
on women has the dangers of things artificial. They 
narrow their understanding of human nature, and that 
is not the way to improve the breed.' 

'I suppose we women are taken to be the second 
thoughts of the Creator; human nature's fringes, mere 
finishing touches, not a part of the texture,' said Diana; 
'the pretty ornamentation. However, I fancy I per- 
' ceive some tolerance growing in the minds of the dominant 
sex. Our old lawyer Mr. Braddock, who appears to 
have no distaste for conversations with me, assures 
me he expects the day to come when women will be 
encouraged to work at crafts and professions for their 



DIANA BEFORE THE WORLD 159 

independence. That is the secret of the opinion of us at j 
present — our dependency. Give us the means of inde- 
pendence, and we will gain it, and have a turn at judging ' 
you, my lords ! You shall behold a world reversed. 
Whenever I am distracted by existing circumstances, I 
lay my finger on the material conditions, and I touch 
the secret. Individually, it may be moral with us; 
collectively, it is material — gross wrongs, gross hungers. 
I am a married rebel, and thereof comes the social rebel. 
I was once a dancing and singing girl. You remember 
the night of the Dublin Ball. A Channel sea in uproar, 
stirred by witches, flows between.' 

'You are as lovely as you were then — I could say, 
lovelier,' said Emma. 

'I have unconquerable health, and I wish I could give 
you the half of it, dear. I work late into the night, and I 
wake early and fresh in the morning. I do not sing, that 
is all. A few days more, and my character will be up 
before the Bull's Head to face him in the arena. The 
worst of a position like mine is, that it causes me in- 
cessantly to think and talk of myself. I believe I 
think less than I talk, but the subject is growing 
stale; as those who are long dying feel, I dare say — if 
they do not take it as the compensation for their 
departure.' 

The Bull's Head, or British Jury of Twelve, with the 
wig on it, was faced during the latter half of a week of 
good news. First, Mr. Thomas Redworth was returned 
to Parliament by a stout majority for the Borough of 
Orrybridge : the Hon. Percy Dacier delivered a brilliant 
speech in the House of Commons, necessarily pleasing to 
his uncle : Lord Larrian obtained the command of the 
Rock: the house of The Crossways was let to a tenant 
approved by Mr. Braddock : Diana received the opening 
proof-sheets of her little volume, and an instalment of 



160 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the modest honorarium : and finally, the Plaintiff in the 
suit involving her name was adjudged to have not proved 
his charge. 

She heard of it without a change of countenance. 

She could not have wished it the reverse; she was 
exonerated. But she was not free ; far from that ; and 
she revenged herself on the friends who made much of her 
triumph and overlooked her plight, by showing no sign of 
satisfaction. There was in her bosom a revolt at the 
legal consequences of the verdict — or blunt acquiescence 
of the Law in the conditions possibly to be imposed on 
her unless she went straight to the relieving phial; and 
the burden of keeping it under, set her wildest humour 
alight, somewhat as Redworth remembered of her on the 
journey from The Crossways to Copsley. This ironic 
fury, coming of the contrast of the outer and the inner, 
would have been indulged to the extent of permanent 
injury to her disposition had not her beloved Emma, 
immediately after the tension of the struggle ceased, 
required her tenderest aid. Lady Dunstane chanted 
victory, and at night collapsed. By the advice of her 
physician she was removed to Copsley, where Diana's 
labour of anxious nursing restored her through love to a 
saner spirit. The hopefulness of life must bloom again 
in the heart whose prayers are offered for a life dearer 
than its own to be preserved. A little return of confi- 
dence in Sir Lukin also refreshed her when she saw that 
the poor creature did honestly, in his shaggy rough male 
fashion, reverence and cling to the flower of soxils he 
named as his wife. His piteous groans of self-accusation 
during the crisis haunted her, and made the conduct and 
nature of men a bewilderment to her still young under- 
standing. Save for the knot of her sensations (hardly a 
mental memory, but a sullen knot) which she did not 
disentangle to charge him with his complicity in the 



INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER 161 

blind rashness of her marriage, she might have felt 
sisterly, as warmly as she compassionated him. 

It was midwinter when Dame Gossip, who keeps the 
exotic world alive with her fanning whispers, related that 
the lovely Mrs. Warwick had left England on board the 
schooner-yacht Clarissa, with Lord and Lady Esquart, 
for a voyage in the Mediterranean : and (behind her hand) 
that the reason was urgent, inasmuch as she fled to escape 
the meshes of the terrific net of the marital law brutally 
whirled to capture her by the man her husband. 



CHAPTER XV 

INTHODXTCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER 

The Gods of this world's contests, against whom our 
poor stripped individual is commonly ia revolt, are, as we 
know, not miners, they are reapers ; and if we appear no 
longer on the surface, they cease to bruise us : they will 
allow an arena character to be cleansed and made pre- 
sentable whUe enthusiastic friends preserve discretion. It 
is of course less than magnanimity; they are not pro- 
posed to you for your worship; they are little Gods, 
temporary as that great wave, their parent human mass 
of the hour. But they have one worshipful element in 
them, which is, the divine insistency upon there being 
two sides to a case — ^to every case. And the People so 
far directed by them may boast of healthfulness. Let 
the individual shriek, the innocent, triumphant, have in 
honesty to admit the fact. One side is vanquished, accord- 
ing to decree of Law, but the superior Council does not 
allow it to be extinguished. 
Diana's battle was fought shadowily behind her for the 



162 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

space of a week or so, with some advocates on behalf of 
the beaten man ; then it became a recollection of a beauti- 
ful woman, possibly erring, misvalued by a husband, who 
was neither a man of the world nor a gracious yokefellow, 
nor anything to match her. She, however, once out of 
the public flames, had to recall her scorchingg to be gentle 
with herself. Under a defeat, she would have been 
angrily self-vindicated. The victory of the ashen laurels 
drove her mind inward to gird at the hateful yoke, in 
compassion for its pair of victims. Quite earnestly by 
such means, yet always bearing a comical eye on her 
subterfuges, she escaped the extremes of personal blame. 
Those advocates of her opponent in and out of court 
compelled her honest heart to search within and own to 
faults. But were they not natural faults? It was her 
marriage ; it was marriage in the abstract : her own 
mistake and the world's clumsy machinery of civiliza- 
tion : these were the capital offenders : not the wife who 
would laugh ringingly, and would have friends of the 
other sex, and shot her epigrams at the helpless despot, 
and was at times — yes, vixenish; a nature driven to it, 
but that was the word. She was too generous to recount 
her charges against the vanquished. If his wretched 
jealousy had ruined her, the secret high tribunal within 
her bosom, which judged her guiltless for putting the 
sword between their marriage tie when they stood as 
one, because a quarrelling couple could not in honour 
play the embracing, pronounced him just pardonable. 
She distinguished that he could only suppose, manlikely,. 
one bad cause for the division. 

To this extent she used her unerring brains, more openly 
than on her night of debate at The Crossways. The next 
moment she was off in vapour, meditating grandly on her 
independence of her sex and the passions. Love ! she- 
did not know it ; she was not acquainted with either the 



INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER 163 

criminal or the domestic God, and persuaded herself that 
she never could be. She was a Diana of coldness, pre- 
ferring friendship ; she could be the friend of men. There 
was another who could be the friend of women. Her 
heart leapt to Redworth. Conjuring up his clear trusty 
face, at their grasp of hands when parting, she thought 
of her visions of her future about the period of the Dublin 
Ball, and acknowledged, despite the erratic step to wed- 
lock, a gain iu having met and proved so true a friend. 
His face, figure, character, lightest look, lightest word, 
aJl were loyal signs of a man of honour, cold as she ; he 
was the man to whom she could have opened her heart 
for inspection. Rejoicing ia her independence of an 
emotional sex, the impulsive woman burned with a regret 
that at their parting she had not broken down conven- 
tional barriers and given her cheek to his lips in the anti- 
insular fashion with a brotherly friend. And why not 
when both were cold? Spirit to spirit, she did, delight- 
fully refreshed by her capacity to do so without a throb. 
He had held her hands and looked into her eyes half a 
minute, like a dear comrade; as little arousing her in- 
stincts of defensiveness as the clearing heavens; and 
sisterly love for it was his due, a sister's kiss. He needed 
a sister, and should have one in her. Emma's recollected 
talk of 'Tom Redworth' painted him from head to foot, 
brought the living man over the waters to the deck of 
the yacht. A stout champion in the person of. Tom 
Redworth was left on British land ; but for some reason 
past analysis, intermixed, that is, among a swarm of sen- 
sations, Diana named her champion to herseM with the 
formal prefix: perhaps because she knew a man's 
Christian name to be dangerous handling. They differed 
besides frequently in opinion, when the habit of think- 
ing of him as Mr. Redworth would be best. Women 
axe bound to such small observances, and especially 



164 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the beautiful of the sisterhood, whom the world soon 
warns that they carry explosives and must particularly 
guard against the ignition of petty sparks. She was less 
indiscreet in her thoughts than in her acts, as is the way 
with the reflective daughter of impulse ; though she had 
fine mental distinctions: what she could offer to do 
'spirit to spirit,' for instance, held nothing to her mind of 
the intimacy of calling the gentleman plain Tom in mere 
contemplation of him. Her friend and champion was a 
volunteer, far from a mercenary, and he deserved the 
reward, if she could bestow it unalarmed. They were to 
meet in Eg)^t. Meanwhile England loomed the home 
of hostile forces ready to shock, had she been a visible 
planet, and ready to secrete a virus of her past history, 
had she been making new. 

She was happily away, borne by a whiter than swan's 
wing on the sapphire Mediterranean. Her letters to 
Emma were peeps of splendour for the invalid : her way 
of life on board the yacht, and sketches of her host and 
hostess as lovers in wedlock on the other side of our 
perilous forties; sketches of the bays, the towns, the 
people — ^priests, dames, cavaliers, urchins, infants, shift- 
ing groups of supple southerners — flashed across the page 
like a web of silk, and were dashed off, redolent of herself, 
as lightly as the silvery spray of the blue waves she 
furrowed; telling, without allusions to the land behind 
her, that she had dipped in the wells of blissful oblivion. 
Emma Dunstane, as is usual with those who receive ex- 
hilarating correspondence from makers of books, con- 
demned the authoress in comparison, and now first saw 
that she had the gift of writing. Only one cry : ' Italy, 
Eden of exiles!' betrayed the seeming of a moan. She 
wrote of her poet and others immediately. Thither had 
they fled, with adieu to England ! 

How many have waved the adieu ! And it is England 



INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER 165 

nourishing, England protecting them, England clothing 
them in the honours they wear. Only the posturing 
lower natures, on the level of their buskins, can pluck out 
the pocket-knife of sentimental spite to cut themselves 
loose from her at heart in earnest. The higher, bleed as 
they may, too pressingly feel their debt. Diana had the 
Celtic vivid sense of country. In England she was Irish, 
by hereditary, and by wilful opposition. Abroad, gazing 
along the waters, observing, comparing, reflecting, above 
all, reading of the struggles at home, the things done 
and attempted, her soul of generosity made her, though 
not less Irish, a daughter of Britain. It is at a distance 
that striving countries should be seen if we would have 
them in the pure idea; and this young woman of fervid 
mind, a reader of public speeches and speculator on the 
tides of politics (desirous, further, to feel herself rather 
more in the pure idea), began to yearn for England long 
before her term of holiday exUe had ended. She had been 
flattered by her friend, her 'wedded martyr at the stake,' 
as she named him, to believe that she could exercise a 
judgement in politics — could think, even speak acutely, 
on public affairs. The reports of speeches delivered by 
the men she knew or knew of, set her thrDling; and she 
fancied the sensibility to be as independent of her sym- 
pathy with the orators as her political notions were 
sovereignly above a sex devoted to trifles, and the feelings 
of a woman who had gone through fire. She fancied it 
confidently, notwithstanding a peculiar intuition that the 
plunge into the nobler business of the world would be a 
haven of safety for a woman with blood and imagination, 
when writing to Emma : ' Mr. Redworth's great success 
in Parliament is good in itself, whatever his views of 
present questions; and I do not heed them when I 
look to what may be done by a man of such power in 
striking at unjust laws, which keep the really numerically 



166 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

better-half of the population in a state of slavery. If he 
had been a lawyer ! It must be a lawyer's initiative — a 
lawyer's Bill. Mr. Percy Dacier also spoke well, as might 
have been expected, and his uncle's compliment to him 
was merited. Should you meet him sound him. He has 
read for the Bar, and is younger than Mr. Redworth. The 
very young men and the old are our hope. The middle- 
aged are hard and fast for existing facts. We pick our 
leaders on the slopes, the incline and decline of the moun- 
tain — not on the upper table-land midway, where all ap- 
pears to men so solid, so tolerably smooth, save for a few 
excrescences, roughnesses, gradually to be levelled at 
their leisure; which induces one to protest that the 
middle-age of men is their time of delusion. It is no 
paradox. They may be publicly useful in a small way. 
I do not deny it at all. They must be near the gates of 
life — ^the opening or the closing — for their minds to be 
accessible to the urgency of the greater questions. Other- 
wise the world presents itself to them under too settled an 
aspect — ^unless, of course, Vesuvian Revolution shakes 
the land. And that touches only their nerves. I dream 
of some old Judge ! There is one — ^if having caught we 
could keep him. But I dread so tricksy a pilot. You have 
guessed him — the ancient Puck! We have laughed 
all day over the paper telling us of his worrying the Lords. 
Lady Esquart congratulates her husband on being out of 
it. Puck hien rid6 and bewigged might perhaps — except 
that at the critical moment he would be sure to plead 
allegiance to Oberon. However, the work will be per- 
formed by some one : I am prophetic : — ^when maidens 
are grandmothers! — when your Tony is wearing a per- 
petual laugh in the unhusbanded regions where there is 
no institution of the wedding-tie.' 

For the reason that she was not to participate in the re- 
sult of the old Judge's or young hero's happy champion- 



INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER 167 

ship of the cause of her sex, she conceived her separate- 
ness high aloof, and actually supposed she was a contem- 
plative, simply speculative political spirit, impersonal 
albeit a woman. This, as Emma, smiling at the lines, 
had not to learn, was always her secret pride of fancy — 
the belief in her possession of a disengaged intellect. 

The strange illusion, so clearly exposed to her corre- 
spondent, was maintained through a series of letters very 
slightly descriptive, dated from the Pirgeus, the Bosphorus, 
the coasts of the Crimea, all more or less relating to the 
latest news of the journals received on board the yacht, 
and of English visitors fresh from the country she now 
seemed fond of calling 'home.' Politics, and gentle 
allusions to the curious exhibition of 'love in marriage' 
shown by her amiable host and hostess: — 'these dear 
Esquarts, who are never tired of one another, but courtly 
courting, tempting me to think it possible that a fortu- 
nate selection and a mutual deference may subscribe to 
human happiness ' : — filled the paragraphs . Reviews of her 
first literary venture were mentioned once : ' I was well ad- 
vised by Mr. Redworth in putting Antonia for authoress. 
She is a buff jerkin to the stripes, and I suspect that the 
signature of d. a. m., written in full, would have cawed 
woefully to hear that her style is affected, her characters 
nullities, her cleverness forced, etc., etc. As it is, I have 
much the same contempt for poor Antonia's performance. 
Cease penning, little fool! She writes, "with some 
comprehension of the passion of love." I know her to 
be a stranger to the earliest cry. So you see, dear, that 
utter ignorance is the mother of the Art. Dialogues 
"occasionally pointed." She has a sister who may do 
better. — But why was I not apprenticed to a serviceable 
profession or a trade? I perceive now that a hanger-on 
of the market had no right to expect a happier fate than 
mine has been.' 



168 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

On the Nile, in the winter of the year, Diana met the 
Hon. Percy Dacier. He was introduced to her at Cairo by 
Redworth. The two gentlemen had struck up a House 
of Commons acquaintanceship, and finding themselves 
bound for the same destination, had grown friendly. 
Redworth's arrival had been pleasantly expected. She 
remarked on Dacier's presence to Emma, without sketch 
or note of him as other than much esteemed by Lord and 
Lady Esquart. These, with Diana, Redworth, Dacier, 
the German Eastern traveller Schweizerbarth, and the 
French Consul and Egyptologist Duriette, composed a 
voyaging party up the river, of which expedition Red- 
worth was Lady Dunstane's chief writer of the records. 
His novel perceptiveness and shrewdness of touch made 
them amusing; and his tenderness to the Beauty's 
coquettry between the two foreign rivals, moved a deeper 
feeling. The German had a guitar, the Frenchman a 
voice; Diana joined them in harmony. They com- 
plaiued apart severally of the accompaniment and the 
singer. Our English criticized them apart; and that is 
at any rate to occupy a post, though it contributes nothing 
to entertainment. At home the Esquarts had sung duets ; 
Diana had assisted Redworth's manly chest-notes at the 
piano. Each of them declined to be vocal. Diana sang 
aJone for the credit of the country, Italian and French 
songs, Irish also. She was in her mood of Planxty Kelly 
and Garryowen all the way. 'Madame est Irlandaise?' 
Redworth heard the Frenchman say, and he owned to 
what was implied in the answering tone of the question. 
'We should be dull dogs without the Irish leaven!' So 
Tony in exile still managed to do something for her 
darling Erin. The solitary woman on her heights at 
Copsley raised an exclamation of, ' Oh ! that those two 
had been or could be united!' She was conscious of 
a mystic symbolism in the prayer. 



INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER 169 

She was not apprehensive of any ominous intervention 
of another. Writing from Venice, Diana mentioned Mr. 
Percy Dacier as being engaged to an heiress; 'A Miss 
Asper, niece of a mighty shipowner, Mr. Quintin Manx, 
Lady Esquart tells me : money fabulous, and necessary to 
a younger son devoured with ambition. The elder brother. 
Lord Creedmore, is a common Nimrod, always absent 
in Hungary, Russia, America, hunting somewhere. Mr. 
Dacier will be in the Cabinet with the next Ministry.' No 
more of him. A new work by Antonia was progressing. 

The Summer in South Tyrol passed like a royal proces- 
sion before young eyes for Diana, and at the close of it, 
descending the Stelvio, idling through the Valtelline, Como 
Lake was reached, Diana full of her work, living the double 
life of the author. At Bellagio one afternoon Mr. Percy 
Dacier appeared. She remembered subsequently a dis- 
appointment she felt in not beholding Mr. Redworth either 
with him or displacing him. If engaged to a lady, he was 
not an ardent suitor; nor was he a pointedly compli- 
mentary acquaintance. His enthusiasm was reserved 
for Italian scenery. She had already formed a sort of 
estimate of his character, as an indifferent observer may 
do, and any woman previous to the inflaming of her 
imagination, if that is in store for her ; and she now fell 
to work resetting the puzzle it became as soon her positive 
conclusions had to be shaped again. 'But women never 
can know young men,' she wrote to Emma, after praising 
his good repute as one of the brotherhood. 'He drops 
pretty sentences now and then : no compliments ; milky 
nuts. Of course he has a head, or he would not be where 
he is — and that seems always to me the most enviable 
place a young man can occupy.' She observed in him a 
singular conflicting of a buoyant animal nature with a 
curb of studiousness, as if the fardels of age were piling 
on his shoulders before youth had quitted its pastures. 



170 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

His build of limbs and his features were those of the finely- 
bred English ; he had the English t&ste for sports, games, 
manly diversions ; and in the bloom of life, under thirty, 
his head was given to bend. The head bending on a tall 
upright figure, where there was breadth of chest, told of 
weights working. She recollected his open look, larger 
than inquiring, at the introduction to her ; and it recurred 
when she uttered anything specially taking. What it 
meant was past a guess, though comparing it with the 
frank directness of Redworth's eyes, she saw the difference 
between a look that accepted her and one that dilated on 
two opinions. 

Her thought of the gentleman was of a brilliant young 
charioteer in the ruck of the race, watchful for his chance 
to push to the front ; and she could have said that a dubi- 
ous consort might spoil a promising career. It flattered 
her to think that she sometimes prompted him, some- 
times illumined. He repeated sentences she had spoken. 
— ' I shall be better able to describe Mr. Dacier when you 
and I sit together, my Emmy, and a stroke here and there 
completes the painting. Set descriptions are good for 
puppets. Living men and women are too various in the 
mixture fashioning them — even the "external present- 
ment"— to be livingly rendered in a formal sketch. I 
may tell you his eyes are pale blue, his features regular, 
his hair silky, brownish, his legs long, his head rather 
stooping (only the head), his mouth commonly closed; 
these are the facts, and you have seen much the same in 
a nursery doll. Such literary craft is of the nursery. So 
with landscapes. The art of the pen (we write on dark- 
ness) is to rouse the inward vision, instead of labouring 
with a Drop-scene brush, as if it were to the eye ; because 
our flying minds cannot contain a protracted description. 
That is why the poets, who spring imagination with a word 
or a phrase, paint lasting pictures. The Shakespearian, 



INTRODUCES THE HON. PERCY DACIER 171 

the Dantesque, are in a line, two at most. He lends 
an attentive ear when I speak, agrees or has a quaint 
pucker of the eyebrows dissenting inwardly. He lacks 
mental liveliness — cheerfulness, I should say, and is 
thankful to have it imparted. One suspects he would be 
a dull domestic companion. He has a veritable thirst for 
hopeful views of the world, and no spiritual distillery of 
his own. He leans to depression. Why ! The broken 
reed you call your Tony carries a cargo, all of her manu- 
facture — she reeks of secret stills; and here is a young 
man — a sapling oak — inclined to droop. His nature has 
an air of imploring me que je I'arrose ! I begin to perform 
Mrs. Dr. Pangloss on purpose to brighten hinn — ^the mind, 
the views. He is not altogether deficient in conversa- 
tional gaiety, and he shines in exercise. But the world is 
a poor old ball boxmding down a hill — ^to an Irish melody 
in the evening generally, by request. So far of Mr. Percy 
Dacier, of whom I have some hopes — distant, perhaps 
delusive — ^that he may be of use to our cause. He listens. 
It is an auspicious commencement.' 

Lugano is the Italian lake most lovingly encircled by 
mountain arms, and every height about it may be scaled 
with ease. The heights have their nest of waters below 
for a home scene, the southern Swiss peaks, with celestial 
Monta Rosa, in prospect. It was there that Diana re- 
awakened, after the trance of a deadly draught, to the 
glory of the earth and her share in it. She wakened like 
the Princess of the Kiss; happily not to kisses; to no 
sign, touch or call that she could trace backward. The 
change befell her without a warning. After writing de- 
liberately to her friend Emma, she laid down her pen and 
thought of nothing; and into this dreamfulness a wine 
passed, filling her veins, suffusing her mind, quickening 
her soul : — and coming whence ? out of air, out of the 
yonder of air. She could have imagined a seraphic 



172 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

presence in the room, that bade her arise and live ; take 
the cup of the wells of youth arrested at her lips by her mar- 
riage ; quit her wintry bondage for warmth, light, space, 
the quick of simple being. And the strange pure ecstasy 
was not a transient electrification ; it came in waves on a 
continuous tide; looking was living; walking flying. 
She hardly knew that she slept. The heights she had seen 
rosy at eve were marked for her ascent in the dawn. 
Sleep was one wink, and fresh as the dewy field and rock- 
flowers on her way upward, she sprang to more and more 
of heaven, insatiable, happily chirruping over her posses- 
sions. The threading of the town among the dear com- 
mon people before others were abroad, was a pleasure: 
and pleasant her solitariness threading the gardens at the 
base of the rock, only she astir ; and the first rough steps 
of the winding footpath, the first closed buds, the sharper 
air, the uprising of the mountain with her ascent; and 
pleasant too was her hunger and the nibble at a little loaf 
of bread. A linnet sang in her breast, an eagle lifted her 
feet. The feet were verily winged, as they are in a season 
of youth when the blood leaps to light from the pressure 
of the under forces, like a source at the wellheads, and 
the whole creature blooms, vital in every energy as a 
spirit. To be a girl again was magical. She could fancy 
her having risen from the dead. And to be a girl, with a 
woman's broader vision and receptiveness of soul, with 
knowledge of evil, and winging to ethereal happiness, 
this was a revelation of our human powers. 

She attributed the change to the influences of nature's 
beauty and grandeur. Nor had her woman's conscious- 
ness to play the chrysalis in any shy recesses of her heart ; 
she was nowhere veiled or torpid ; she was illumined, like 
the Salvatore she saw in the evening beams and mounted 
in the morning's ; and she had not a spot of secresy ; all 
her nature flew and bloomed ; she was bird, flower, flowing 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 173 

river, a quivering sensibility unweighted, unshrouded. 
Desires and hopes would surely have weighted and 
shrouded her. She had none, save for the upper air, the 
eyes of the mountain. 

Which was the dream — ^her past life or this ethereal 
existence? But this ran spontaneously, and the other 
had often been stimulated — ^her vivaciousness on the 
Nile-boat, for a recent example. She had not a doubt 
that her past life was the dream, or deception : and for 
the reason that now she was compassionate, large of heart 
toward all beneath her. Let them but leave her free, 
they were forgiven, even to prayers for their wellbeing ! 
The plural number in the case was an involuntary multi- 
plying of the single, coming of her incapacity during this 
elevation and rapture of the senses to think distinctly of 
that One who had discoloured her opening life. Freedom 
to breathe, gaze, climb, grow with the grasses, fly with 
the clouds, to muse, to sing, to be an imclaimed self, 
dispersed upon earth, air, sky, to find a keener trans- 
figured self in that radiation — she craved no more. 

Bear in mind her beauty, her charm of tongue, her 
present state of white simplicity iu fervour: was there 
ever so perilous a woman for the most guarded and 
clearest-eyed of young men to meet at early mom upon a 
mountain side? 



CHAPTER XVI 

TBEATS OF A MIDNIGHT BELL, AND OP A SCENE OF 
EABLT MORNING 

On a round of the mountains rising from Osteno, South- 
eastward of Lugano, the Esquart party rose from the 
natural grotto and headed their carriages up and down the 



174 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

defiles, halting for a night at Rovio, a little village below 
the Generoso, lively with waterfalls and watercourses; 
and they fell so in love with the place, that after roaming 
along the flowery borderways by moonlight, they re- 
solved to rest there two or three days and try some easy 
ascents. In the diurnal course of nature, being pleasantly 
tired, they had the avowed intention of sleeping there,* 
so they went early to their beds, and carelessly wished 
one another good-night, none of them supposing slumber 
to be anywhere one of the warlike arts, a paradoxical 
thing you must battle for and can only win at last when 
utterly beaten. Hard by their inn, close enough for a. 
priestly homily to have been audible, stood a church 
campanile, wherein hung a Bell, not ostensibly communi- 
cating with the demons of the pit; in daylight rather a 
merry comrade. But at night, when the children of 
nerves lay stretched, he threw off the mask. As soon as 
they had fairly nestled, he smote their pUlows a shatter- 
ing blow, loud for the retold preluding quarters, incred- 
ibly clanging the number ten. Then he waited for 
neighbouring campanili to box the ears of slumber's 
votaries in turn ; whereupon, under pretence of excessive 
conscientiousness, or else oblivious of his antecedent, 
damnable misconduct, or perhaps in actual league and 
trapdoor conspiracy with the surging goblin hosts be- 
neath us, he resumed his blaring strokes, a sonorous 
recapittdation of the number; all the others likewise. 
It was an alarum fit to warn of Attila or Alaric ; and not 
simply the maniacal noise invaded the fruitful provinces 
of sleep like Hun and Vandal, the irrational repetition 
ploughed the minds of those unhappy somnivolents, 
leaving them worse than sheared by barbarians, disrupt, 
as by earthquake, with the unanswerable question to 
Providence, Why ! — Why twice ? 
Designing slumberers are such infants. When they 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 175 

have xmdressed and stretched themselves flat, it seems 
that they have really gone back to their mothers' breasts, 
and they fret at whatsoever does not smack of nature, or 
custom. The cause of a repetition so senseless in its 
violence, and so unnecessary, set them querying and 
kicking untU the inevitable quarters recommenced. Then 
arose an insurgent rabble in their bosoms, it might be the 
loosened imps of darkness, urging them to speculate 
whether the proximate monster about to dole out the 
eleventh hour in uproar would again forget himself and 
repeat his dreary arithmetic a second time; for they 
were unaware of his religious obhgation, following the 
hour of the district, to inform them of the tardy hour of 
Rome. They waited in suspense, curiosity enabling 
them to bear the first crash callously. His performance 
was the same. And now they took him for a crazy 
engine whose madness had infected the whole neighbour- 
hood. Now was the moment to fight for sleep in con- 
tempt of him, and they began by simulating an entry 
into the fortress they were to defend, plunging on their 
pillows, battening down their eyelids, breathing with a 
dreadful regularity. Alas ! it came to their knowledge 
that the Bell was in possession and they the besiegers. 
Every resonant quarter was anticipated up to the blow, 
without averting its murderous abruptness; and an 
executioner Midnight that sounded, in addition to the 
reiterated quarters, four and twenty ringing hammer- 
strokes, with the aching pause between the twelves, left 
them the prey of the legions of torturers which are 
summed, though not described, in the title of a sleepless 
night. 

From that period the curse was milder, but the victims 

raged. They swam on vasty deeps, they knocked at 

rusty gates, they shouldered all the weapons of black 

,. Insomnia's armoury and became her soldiery, doing her 



176 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

will upon themselves. Of her originally sprang the in- 
spired teaching of the doom of men to excruciation in 
endlessness. She is the fountain of the infinite ocean 
whereon the exceedingly sensitive soul is tumbled ever- 
lastingly, with the diversion of hot pincers to appease its 
appetite for change. 

Dacier was never the best of sleepers. He had taken to 
exercise his brains prematurely, not only in learning, but 
also in reflection; and a reflectiveness that is indulged 
before we have a rigid mastery of the emotions, or have 
slain them, is apt to make a young man more than com- 
monly a child of nerves : nearly as much so as the dissi- 
pated, with the difference that they are hilarious while 
wasting their treasury, which he is not; and he may 
recover under favouring conditions, which is a point of 
vantage denied to them. Physically he had stout re- 
serves, for he had not disgraced the temple. His in- 
temperateness lay in the craving to rise and lead: a 
precocious ambition. This apparently modest young 
man started with an aim — and if in the distance and with 
but a slingstone, like the slender shepherd fronting the 
Philistine, all his energies were in his aim — at Govern- 
ment. He had hung on the fringe of an Administration. 
His party was out, and he hoped for higher station on 
its return to power. Many perplexities were therefore 
buzzing about his head; among them at present one 
sufficiently magnified and voracious to swallow the 
remainder. He added force to the interrogation as to 
why that Bell should sound its inhuman strokes twice, 
by asking himself why he was there to hear it ! A 
strange suspicion of a bewitchment might have en- 
lightened him if he had been a man accustomed to yield 
to the peculiar kind of sorcery issuing from that sex. He 
rather despised the power of women over men : and never- 
theless he was there, listening to that Bell, instead of 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 177 

having obeyed the call of his family duties, when the 
latter were urgent. He had received letters at Lugano, 
summoning him home, before he set forth on his present 
expedition. The noisy alarum told him he floundered in 
quags, like a silly creature chasing a marsh-lamp. But 
was it so ? Was it not, on the contrary, a serious pursuit 
of the secret of a woman's character? — Oh, a woman and 
her character ! Ordinary women and their characters 
might set to work to get what relationship and likeness 
they could. They had no secret to allure. This one had : 
she had the secret of lake waters under rock, unfathom- 
able in limpidness. He could n6t think of her without 
shooting at nature, and nature's very sweetest and 
subtlest, for comparison. As to her sex, his active man's 
contempt of the petticoated secret attractive to boys 
and graylings, made him believe that in her he hunted 
the mind and the spirit: perchance a double mind, a 
twilighted spirit; but not a mere woman. She bore no 
resemblance to the bundle of women. Well, she was 
worth studying; she had ideas, and could give ear to 
ideas. Furthermore, a couple of the members of his 
family inclined to do her injustice. At least, they judged 
her harshly, owing, he thought, to an inveterate opinion 
they held regarding Lord Dannisburgh's obliquity in 
relation to women. He shared it, and did not concur in 
their verdict upon the woman implicated. That is to 
say, knowing something of her now, he could see the 
possibility of her innocence in the special charm that her 
mere sparkle of features and speech, and her freshness 
would have for a man like his uncle. The possibility 
pleaded strongly on her behalf, while the darker possi- 
bility weighted by his uncle's reputation plucked at him 
from below. 

She was delightful to hear, delightful to see; and 
her friends loved her and had faith in her. So 



178 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

clever a woman might be too clever for her 
friends ! , . . 

The circle he moved in hummed of women, prompting 
novices as well as veterans to suspect that the multitude 
of them, and notably the fairest, yet more the cleverest, 
concealed the serpent somewhere. 

She certainly had not directed any of her arts upon him. 
Besides he was half engaged. And that was a burning 
perplexity ; not because of abstract scruples touching the 
necessity for love in marriage. The young lady, great 
heiress though she was, and willing, as she allowed him 
to assume; graceful too, reputed a beauty; struck him 
cold. He fancied her transparent, only Arctic. Her 
transparency displayed to him all the common virtues, 
and a serene possession of the inestimable and eminent 
one outweighing all; but charm, wit, ardour, inter- 
communicative quickness, and kindling beauty, airy 
grace, were qualities that a man, it seemed, had to look 
for in women spotted by a doubt of their having the chief 
and priceless. 

However, he was not absolutely plighted. Nor did it 
matter to him whether this or that woman concealed the 
tail of the serpent and trail, excepting the singular 
interest this woman managed to excite, and so deeply as 
set him wondering how that Resurrection Bell might be 
affecting her ability to sleep. Was she sleeping? — or 
waking? His nervous imagination was a torch that 
alternately lighted her lying asleep with the innocent, 
like a babe, and tossing beneath the overflow of her dark 
hair, hounded by haggard memories. She fluttered 
before him in either aspect ; and another perplexity now 
was to distinguish within himself which was the aspect 
he preferred. Great Nature brought him thus to drink 
of her beauty, under the delusion that the act was a specu- 
lation on her character. 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 179 

The Bell, with its clash, throb and long swoon of sound, 
reminded him of her name : Diana ! — ^An attribute ? or a 
derision? 

It really mattered nothing to him, save for her being 
maligned ; and if most unfairly, then that face of the vary- 
ing expressions, and the rich voice, and the remembered 
gentle and taking words coming from her, appealed to him 
with a supplicating vividness that pricked his heart to 
leap. 

He was dozing when the Bell burst through the thin 
division between slumber and wakefulness, recounting 
what seemed innumerable peals, hard on his cranium. 
Gray daylight blanched the window and the bed: his 
watch said five of the morning. He thought of the 
pleasure of a bath beneath some dashing sprayshowers, 
and jumped up to dress, feeling a queer sensation of skia 
in his clothes, the ^gn of a feverish night ; and yawning 
he went into the air. Leftward the narrow village street 
led to the footway along which he could make for the 
mountain-wall. He cast one look at the head of the 
campanile, silly as an owlish roysterer's glazed stare at 
the young Aurora, and hurried his feet to check the yawns 
coming alarmingly fast, in the place of ideas. 

His elevation above the valley was about the kneecap of 
the Generoso. Waters of past rain-clouds poured down 
the mountain-sides like veins of metal, here and there 
flinging off a shower on the busy descent ; only dubiously 
animate in the lack lustre of the huge bulk piled against 
a yellow East that wafted fleets of pinky cloudlets over- 
head. He mounted his path to a level with inviting grass- 
mounds where water circled, running from scoops and cups 
to curves and brook-streams, and in his fancy calling to 
him to hear them. To dip in them was his desire. To 
roll and shiver braced by the icy flow was the spell to 
'break that baleful incantation of the intolerable night; 



180 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

so he struck across a ridge of boulders, wreck of a landslip 
from the height he had hugged, to the open space of 
shadowed undulations, and soon had his feet on turf. 
Heights to right and to left, and between them, aloft, a 
sky the rosy wheelcourse of the chariot of morn, and 
below, among the knolls, choice of sheltered nooks where 
Tvaters whispered of secresy to satisfy Diana herself. 
They have that whisper and waving of secresy in secret 
scenery; they beckon to the bath; and they conjure 
classic visions of the pudency of the Goddess irate or 
unsighted. The semi-mythological state of mind, buUt 
of old images and favouring haunts, was known to Dacier. 
The name of Diana, playing vaguely on his consciousness, 
helped to it. He had no definite thought of the mortal 
woman when the highest grass-roll near the rock gave him 
view of a bowered source and of a pool under a chain of 
cascades, bounded by polished shelves and slabs. The 
very spot for him, he decided at the first peep; and at 
the second, with fingers instinctively loosening his waist- 
coat-buttons for a commencement, he shouldered round 
and strolled away, though not at a rapid pace, nor far 
before he halted. 

That it could be no other than she, the figure he had 
seen standing beside the pool, he was sure. Why had he 
turned? Thoughts thick and swift as a blush in the 
cheeks of seventeen overcame him ; and queen of all, the 
thought bringing the picture of this mountain-solitude to 
vindicate a woman shamefully assailed. — She who found 
her pleasure in these haunts of nymph and Goddess, at 
the fresh cold bosom of nature, must be clear as day. 
She trusted herself to the loneliness here, and to the 
honour of men, from a like irreflective sincereness. She 
was unable to imagine danger where her own impelling 
thirst was pure. . . . 

The thoughts, it will be discerned, were but flashes of 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 181 

a momentary vivid sensibility. Where a woman's charm 
has won half the battle, her character is an advancing 
standard and sings victory, let her do no more than take a 
quiet morning walk before breakfast. 

But why had he turned his back on her ? There was 
nothing in his presence to alarm, nothing in her appear- 
ance to forbid. The motive and the movement were 
equally quaint; incomprehensible to him; for after 
putting himself out of sight, he understood the absurdity 
of the supposition that she would seek the secluded sylvan 
bath for the same purpose as he. Yet now he was 
debarred from going to meet her. She might have an 
impulse to bathe her feet. Her name was Diana. . . . 

Yes, and a married woman ; and a proclaimed one I 
And notwithstanding those brassy facts, he was ready to 
side with the evidence declaring her free from stain ; and 
further, to swear that her blood was Diana's ! 

Nor had Dacier ever been particularly poetical about 
women. The present Diana had wakened his curiosity, 
had stirred his interest in her, pricked his admiration, but 
gradually, untU a sleepless night with its flock of raven- 
fancies imder that dominant Bell, ended by colouring her, 
the moment she stood in his eyes, as freshly as the morn- 
ing heavens. We are much influenced in youth by 
sleepless nights: they disarm, they predispose us to 
submit to soft occasion; and in our youth occasion is 
always coming. 

He heard her voice. She had risen up the grass-mound, 
and he hung brooding half-way down. She was dressed 
in some texture of the hue of lavender. A violet scarf 
loosely knotted over the bosom opened on her throat. 
The loop of her black hair curved under a hat of gray 
beaver. Memorably radiant was her face. 

They met, exchanged greetings, praised the beauty of 
the morning, and struck together on the Bell. She 



182 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

laughed: 'I heard it at ten; I slept till four. I never 
wake later. I was out in the air by half-past. Were you 
disturbed?' 

He alluded to his troubles with the Bell. 

'It sounded like a felon's heart in skeleton ribs,' he 
said. 

' Or a proser's tongue in a hollow skull,' said she. 

He bowed to her conversible readiness, and at once 
fell into the background, as he did only with her, to per- 
form accordant bass in their dialogue ; for when a woman 
lightly caps our strained remarks, we gallantly surren- 
der the leadership, lest she should too cuttingly assert 
her claim. 

Some sweet wild cyclamen flowers were at her breast. 
She held in her left hand a bunch of buds and blown cups 
of the pale purple meadow-crocus. He admired them. 
She told him to look round. He confessed to not having 
noticed them in the grass : what was the name? Colchi- 
cum, in Botany, she said. 

'These are plucked to be sent to a friend; otherwise 
I 'm reluctant to take the life of flowers for a whim. 
Wild flowers, I mean. I am not sentimental about 
garden flowers : they are cultivated for decoration, grown 
for clipping.' 

'I suppose they don't carry the same signification,' 
said Dacier, in the tone of a pupil to such themes. 

'They carry no feeling,' said she. 'And that is my 
excuse for plucking these, where they seem to spring like 
our town-dream of happiness. I believe they are sensible 
of it too ; but these must do service to my invalid friend, 
who cannot travel. Are you ever as much interested in 
the woes of great ladies as of country damsels ? I am not 
— not unless they have natural distinction. You have 
met Lady Dunstane?' 

The question sounded artless. Dacier answered that he 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 183 

thought he had seen her somewhere once, and Diana shut 
her lips on a rising under-smile. 

' She is the caeur d'or of our time ; the one soul I would 
sacrifice these flowers to.' 

'A bit of a blue-stocking, I think I have heard said.' 

'She might have been admitted to the Hotel Ram- 
bouOlet, without being anything of a Pr6cieuse. She is 
the woman of the largest heart now beating.' 

' Mr. Redworth talked of her.' 

'As she deserved, I am sure.' 

'Very warmly.' 

'He would!' 

'He told me you were the Damon and Pythias of 
women.' 

'Her one fault is an extreme humility that makes her 
always play second to me ; and as I am apt to gabble, I 
take the lead; and I am froth in comparison. I can 
reverence my superiors even when tried by intimacy with 
them. She is the next heavenly thing to heaven that I 
know. Court her, if ever you come across her. Or have 
you a man's horror of women with brains?' 

'Am I expressing it?' said he. 

'Do not breathe London or Paris here on me.' She 
fanned the crocuses imder her chin. 'The early morning 
always has this — I wish I had a word! — ^touch . . . 
whisper . . . gleam . . . beat of wings — ^I envy poets 
now more than ever! — of Eden, I was going to say. 
Prose can paint evening and moonlight, but poets are 
needed to sing the dawn. That is because prose is equal 
to melancholy stuff. Gladness requires the finer lan- 
guage. Otherwise we have it coarse — anything but a 
reproduction. You politicians despise the little dis- 
tinctions "twixt tweedledum and tweedledee," I fancy.' 

Of the poetic sort, Dacier's uncle certainly did. For 
himself he confessed to not having thought much on them. 



184 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'But how divine is utterance!' she said. 'As we to 
the brutes, poets are to us.' 

He listened somewhat with the head of the hanged. A 
beautiful woman choosing to rhapsodize has her way, 
and is not subjected to the critical commentary within us. 
He wondered whether she had discoursed in such a fashion 
to his uncle. 

'I can read good poetry,' said he. 

'If you would have this valley — or mountain-cleft, one 
should call it — described, only verse could do it for you,' 
Diana pursued, and stopped, glanced at his face, and 
smiled. She had spied the end of a towel peeping out of 
one of his pockets. 'You came out for a bath! Go 
back, by all means, and mount that rise of grass where 
you first saw me; and down on the other side, a little 
to the right, you will find the very place for a bath, at a 
corner of the rock — a natural fountain; a bubbling pool 
in a ring of brushwood, with fallhig water, so tempting 
that I could have pardoned a push : about five feet deep. 
Lose no time.' 

He begged to assure her that he would rather stroll 
with her : it had been only a notion of bathing by chance 
when he pocketed the towel. 

'Dear me,' she cried, 'if I had been a man I should 
have scurried off at a signal of release, quick as a hare I 
once woke up in a field with my foot on its back,' 

Dacier's eyebrows knotted a trifle over her eagerness to 
dismiss him: he was not used to it, but rather to be 
courted by women, and to condescend. 

'I shall not long, I 'm afraid, have the pleasure of walk- 
ing beside you and hearing you. I had letters at Lugano. 
My imcle is unwell, I hear.' 

'Lord Dannisburgh?' 

The name sprang from her lips unhesitatingly. 

His nodded affirmative altered her face and her voice. 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 185 

'It is not a grave illness?^ 

'They rather fear it.' 

'You had the news at Lugano?' 

He answered the implied reproach: 'I can be of no 
service.' 

'But surely!' 

' It 's even doubtful that he would be bothered to 
receive me. We hold no views in common — excepting 
one.' 

'Could I?' she exclaimed. '0 that I might! If he 
is really ill ! But if it is actually serious he would per- 
haps have a wish ... I can nurse. I know I have the 
power to cheer him. You ought indeed to be in England.' 

Dacier said he had thought it better to wait for later 
reports. 'I shall drive to Lugano this afternoon, and act 
on the information I get there. Probably it ends my 
holiday.' 

'Will you do me the favour to write me word? — and 
especially tell me if you think he would like to have me 
near him,' said Diana. 'And let him know that if he. 
wants nursing or cheerful companionship, I am at any 
moment ready to come.' 

The flattery of a beautiful young woman to wait on hint 
would be very agreeable to Lord Dannisburgh, Dacier 
conceived. Her offer to go was possibly purely charitable. 
But the prudence of her occupation of the post obscured 
whatever appeared admirable in her devotedness. Her 
choice of a man like Lord Dannisburgh for the friend to 
whom she could sacrifice her good name less falteringly 
than she gathered those field-flowers was inexplicable;, 
and she herself a darker riddle at each step of his reading. 

He promised curtly to write. 'I will da my best to hit 
a flying address.' 

' Your Club enables me to hit a permanent one that will 
establish the communication,' said Diana. 'We shall not. 



186 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

sleep another night at Rovio. Lady Esquart is the 
lightest of sleepers, and if you had a restless time, she and 
her husband must have been in purgatory. Besides, 
permit me to say, you should be with your party. The 
times are troublous — not for holidays ! Your holiday 
has had a haunted look, creditably to your conscience as 
a politician. These Corn Law agitations !' 

'Ah, but no politics here !' said Dacier. 

' Politics everywhere ! — in the Courts of FaSry ! They 
are not discord to me.' 

'But not the last day — the last hour!' he pleaded. 

'Well! only do not forget your assurance to me that 
you would give some thoughts to Ireland — and the cause 
of women. Has it slipped from your memory?' 

'If I see the chance of serving you, you may trust to 
me.' 

She sent up an interjection on the misfortune of her 
not having been born a man. 

It was to him the one smart of sourness in her charm as 
a woman. 

Among the boulder-stones of the ascent to the path, he 
ventured to propose a little masculine assistance in a 
hand stretched mutely. Although there was no great 
need for help, her natural kindliness checked the inclina- 
tion to refuse it. When their hands disjoined she found 
herself reddening. She cast it on the exertion. Her 
heart was throbbing. It might be the exertion likewise. 

He walked and talked much more airily along the 
descending pathway, as if he had suddenly become more 
intimately acquainted with her. 

She listened, trying to think of the manner in which he 
might be taught to serve that cause she had at heart ; and 
the colour deepened on her cheeks till it set fire to her 
underlying consciousness : blood to spirit. A tremour of 
alarm ran through her. 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 187 

His request for one of the crocuses to keep as a souvenir 
of the morning was refused. 'They are sacred; they 
were all devoted to my friend when I plucked them.' 

He pointed to a half-open one, with the petals in dis- 
parting pointing to junction, and compared it to the 
famous tiptoe ballet-posture, arms above head and fingers 
like swallows meeting in air, of an operatic danseuse of the 
time. 

'I do not see it, because I wiU not see it,' she said, 
and she found a personal cooling and consolement in the 
phrase. — We have this power of resisting invasion of the 
poetic by the conmionplace, the spirit by the blood, if we 
please, though you men may not think that we have ! — 
Her alarmed sensibilities bristled and made head against 
him as an enemy. She fancied (for the aforesaid reason 
— because she chose) that it was on account of the offence 
to her shy morning pleasure by his Londonizing. At any 
other moment her natural liveliness and trained social ease 
would have taken any remark on the eddies of the tide of 
converse; and so she told herself, and did not the less 
feel wounded, adverse, armed. He seemed somehow to 
have dealt a mortal blow to the happy girl she had be- 
come again. The woman she was protested on behalf of 
the girl, while the girl in her heart bent lowered sad eye- 
lids to the woman; and which of them was wiser of the 
truth she could not have said, for she was honestly not 
aware of the truth, but she knew she was divided in halves, 
with one half pitying the other, one rebuking: and all 
because of the incongruous comparison of a wild flower to 
an opera dancer ! Absurd indeed. We human creatures 
are the silliest on earth, most certainly. 

Dacier had observed the blush, and the check to her 
flowing tongue did not escape him as they walked back 
to the inn down the narrow street of black rooms, where 
the women gossiped at the fountain and the cobbler 



188 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

threaded on his doorstep. His novel excitement supplied 
the deficiency, sweeping him past minor reflections. He 
was, however, surprised to hear her tell Lady Esquart, as 
soon as they were together at the breakfast-table, that he 
had the intention of starting for England; and further 
surprised, and slightly stung too, when on the poor lady's 
moaning over her recollection of the midnight Bell, and 
vowing she could not attempt to sleep another night in the 
place, Diana declared her resolve to stay there one day 
longer with her maid, and explore the neighbourhood for 
the wild flowers in which it abounded. Lord and Lady 
Esquart agreed to anything agreeable to her, after ex- 
cusing themselves for the necessitated flight, piteously 
relating the story of their sufferings. My lord could have 
slept, but he had remained awake to comfort my lady. 

'True knightliness!' Diana said, in praise of these 
long married lovers ; and she asked them what they had 
talked of during the night. 

'You, my dear, partly,' said Lady Esquart. 

'For an opiate?' 

' An invocation of the morning,' said Dacier. 

Lady Esquart looked at Diana and at him. She 
thought it was well that her fair friend should stay. It 
was then settled for Diana to rejoin them the next even- 
ing at Lugano, thence to proceed to Luino on the Maggiore. 

' I fear it is good-bye for me,' Dacier said to her, as he 
was about to step into the carriage with the Esquarts. 

' If you have not better news of your uncle, it must be,' 
she replied, and gave him her hand promptly and formally, 
hardly diverting her eyes from Lady Esquart to grace the 
temporary gift with a look. The last of her he saw was a 
waving of her arm and finger pointing triumphantly at 
the Bell in the tower. It said, to an understanding un- 
practised in the feminine mysteries : ' I can sleep through 
anything.' What that revealed of her state of conscience 



A MIDNIGHT BELL AND EARLY MORNING 189 

and her nature, his efforts to preserve the lovely optical 
figure blocked his guessing. He was with her friends, 
who liked her the more they knew her, and he was com- 
pelled to lean to their view of the perplexing woman. 

'She is a riddle to the world,' Lady Esquart said, 
'but I know that she is good. It is the best of 
signs when women take to her and are proud to be 
her friend.' 

My lord echoed his wife. She talked in this homely 
manner to stop any notion of philandering that the young 
gentleman might be disposed to entertain in regard to a 
lady so attractive to the pursuit as Diana's beauty and 
delicate situation might make her seem. 

'She is an exceedingly clever person, and handsomer 
than report, which is imcommon,' said Dacier, becoming 
voluble on town-topics, Miss Asper incidentally among 
them. He denied Lady Esquart's charge of an engage- 
ment ; the matter hung. 

His letters at Lugano summoned him to England in- 
stantly. 

'I have taken leave of Mrs. Warwick, but tell her I 
regret, et caetera,' he said; 'and by the way, as my 
uncle's illness appears to be serious, the longer she is 
absent the better, perhaps.' 

'It would never do,' said Lady Esquart, understanding 
his drift immediately. 'We winter in Rome. She will 
not abandon us— I have her word for it. Next Easter we 
are in Paris ; and so home, I suppose. There will be no 
hurry before we are due at Cowes. We seem to have 
become confirmed wanderers ; for two of us at least it is 
likely to be our last great tour.' 

Dacier informed her that he had pledged his word to 
write to Mrs. Warwick of his uncle's condition, and the 
several appointed halting-places of the Esquarts between 
the lakes and Florence were named to him. Thus all 



190 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

things were openly treated; all had an air of being on 
the surface; the communications passing between Mrs. 
Warwick and the Hon. Percy Dacier might have been 
perused by all the world. None but that portion of it, 
sage in suspiciousness, which objects to such communi- 
cations under any circumstances, could have detected in 
their correspondence a spark of coming fire or that there 
was common warmth. She did not feel it, nor did he. 
The position of the two interdicted it to a couple honour- 
ably sensible of social decencies; and who were, be it 
added, kept apart. The blood is the treacherous ele- 
ment in the story of the nobly civilized, of which secret 
Diana, a wife and no wife, a prisoner in liberty, a bloom- 
ing woman imagining herself restored to transcendent 
maiden ecstacies — the highest youthful poetic — ^had re- 
ceived some faint intimation when the blush flamed 
suddenly in her cheeks and her heart knelled like the 
towers of a city given over to the devourer. She had no 
wish to meet him again. Without telling herself why, 
she would have shunned the meeting. Disturbers that 
thwarted her simple happiness in sublime scenery were 
best avoided. She thought so the more for a fitful blur 
to the simplicity of her sensations, and a task she some- 
times had in restoring and toning them, after that sweet 
morning time in Rovio. 



CHAPTER XVII 

'THE PBINCESS EGEKIA' 

London, say what we will of it, is after all the head of 
the British giant, and if not the liveliest in bubbles, it is 
past competition the largest broth-pot of brains anywhere 



'THE PRINCESS EGERIA' 191 

simmering an the hob : over the steadiest of furnaces too. 
And the oceans and the continents, as you know, are per- 
petual and copious contributors, either to the heating 
apparatus or to the contents of the pot. Let grander 
similes be sought. This one fits for the smoky receptacle 
cherishing millions, magnetic to tens of millions more, 
with its caked outside of grime, and the inward substance 
incessantly kicking the lid, prankish, but never casting it 
off. A good stew, you perceive; not a parlous boiling. 
Weak as we may be in our domestic cookery, our political 
has been sagaciously adjusted as yet to catch the ardours 
of the furnace without being subject to their volcanic 
activities. 

That the social is also somewhat at fault, we have proof 
in occasional outcries over the absence of these or those 
particular persons famous for inspiriting. It sticks and 
clogs. The improvising songster is missed, the convivial 
essayist, the humorous Dean, the travelled cynic, and he, 
the one of his day, the iridescent Irishman, whose remem- 
bered repartees are a feast, sharp and ringing, at divers 
tables descending from the upper to the fat citizen's, 
where, instead of coming in the sequence of talk, they 
are exposed by blasting, like fossil teeth of old Deluge 
sharks in monotonous walls of our chalk-quarries. Nor 
are these the less welcome for the violence of their intro- 
duction among a people glad to be set burning rather 
briskly awhUe by the most unexpected of digs in the ribs. 
Dan Merion, to give an example. That was Dan Merion's 
joke with the watchman: and he said that other thing 
to the Marquis of Kingsbury, when the latter asked him 
if he had ever won a donkey-race. And old Dan is dead, 
and we are the duller for it ! which leads to the question : 
Is genius hereditary? And the affirmative and negative 
are respectively maintained, rather against the Yes in 
the dispute, until a member of the audience speaks of 



192 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Dan Merlon's having left a daughter reputed for a spark- 
ling wit not much below the level of his own. Why, are 
you unaware that the Mrs. Warwick of that scandal case 
of Warwick versus Dannisburgh was old Dan Merion's girl 
and his only child ? It is true ; for a friend had it from 
a man who had it straight from Mr. Braddock, of the 
firm of Braddock, Thorpe and Simnel, her solicitors in the 
action, who told him he could sit listening to her for hours, 
and that she was as innocent as day; a wonderful com- 
bination of a good woman and a clever woman and a real 
beauty. Only her misfortune was to have a furiously 
jealous husband, and they say he went mad after hearing 
the verdict. 

Diana was talked of in the London circles. A witty 
woman is such salt that where she has once been tasted 
she must perforce be missed more than any of the absent, 
the dowering heavens not having yet showered her like 
very plentifully upon us. Then it was first heard that 
Percy Dacier had been travelling with her. Miss Asper 
heard of it. Her uncle, Mr. Quintin Manx, the million- 
naire, was an acquaintance of the new Judge and titled 
dignitary, Sir Cramborne Wathin, and she visited Lady 
Wathin, at whose table the report in the journals of the 
Nile-boat party was mentioned. Lady Wathin's table 
could dispense with witty women, and, for that matter, 
witty men. The intrusion of the spontaneous on the 
stereotyped would have clashed. She preferred, as 
hostess, the old legal anecdotes sure of their laugh, and 
the citations from the manufactories of fun in the Press, 
which were current and instantly intelligible to all her 
guests. She smiled suavely on an impromptu pun, 
because her experience of the humorous appreciation of 
it by her guests bade her welcome the upstart. Nothing 
else impromptu was acceptable. Mrs. Warwick there- 
fore was not missed by Lady Wathin. 'I have met her,' 



'THE PRINCESS EGERIA' 193 

she said. 'I confess I am not one of the fanatics about 
Mrs. Warwick. She has a sort of skill in getting men to 
clamour. If you stoop to tickle them, they wiU applaud. 
It is a way of winning a reputation.' When the ladies 
were separated from the gentlemen by the stream of Claret, 
Miss Asper heard Lady Wathin speak of Mrs. Warwick 
again. An allusion to Lord Dannisburgh's fit of illness 
in the House of Lords led to her saying that there was 
no doubt he had been fascinated, and that, in her opinion, 
Mrs. Warwick was a dangerous woman. Sir Cramborne 
knew something of Mr. Warwick: 'Poor man!' she 
added. A lady present put a question concerning Mrs. 
Warwick's beauty. 'Yes,' Lady Wathin said, 'she has 
good looks to aid her. Judging from what I hear and 
have seen, her thirst is for notoriety. Sooner or later 
we shall have her making a noise, you may be certain. 
Yes, she has the secret of dressing well — ^in the French 
style.' 

A simple newspaper report of the expedition of a Nile- 
boat party could stir the Powers to take her up and turn 
her on their wheel in this manner. 

But others of the sons and daughters of London were 
regretting her prolonged absence. The great and ex- 
clusive Whitmonby, who had dined once at Lady Wathin's 
table, and vowed never more to repeat that offence to 
his patience, lamented bitterly to Henry Wilmers that 
the sole woman worthy of sitting at a little Sunday 
evening dinner with the cream of the choicest men of 
the time was away wasting herself in that insane modem 
chase of the picturesque ! He called her a perverted 
Celimene. 

Redworth had less to regret than the rest of her male 
friends, as he was receiving at ratervals pleasant descrip- 
tive letters, besides manuscript sheets of Antonia's new 
piece of composition, to correct the proofs for the press, 



194 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

and he read them critically, he thought. He read them 
with a watchful eye to guard them from the critics. An- 
TONiA, whatever her faults as a writer, was not one of the 
order whose Muse is the Public Taste. She did at least 
draw her inspiration from herself, and there was much to 
be feared ia. her work, if a sale was the object. Otherwise 
Redworth's highly critical perusal led him flatly to ad- 
mire. This was like her, and that was like her, and here 
and there a phrase gave him the very play of her mouth, 
the flash of her eyes. Could he possibly wish, or bear, to 
have anything altered? But she had reason to desire an 
extended sale of the work. Her aim, in the teeth of her 
independent style, was at the means of independence — 
a feminine method of attempting to conciliate contraries ; 
and after despatching the last sheets to the printer, he 
meditated upon the several ways which might serve to 
assist her ; the main way running thus in his mind : — ^We 
have a work of genius. Genius is good for the public. 
What is good for the public should be recommended by 
the critics. It should be. How then to come at them to 
get it done ? As he was not a member of the honourable 
literary craft, and regarded its arcana altogether exter- 
nally, it may be confessed of him that he deemed the 
Incorruptible corruptible; — ^not, of course, with filthy 
coin slid into sticky palms. Critics are human, and ex- 
ceedingly, beyond the common lot, when touched; and 
they are excited by mysterious hints of loftiness in 
authorship; by rumours of veiled loveliness; whispers 
of a general anticipation; and also Editors can jog them. 
Redworth was rising to be a Railway King of a period 
soon to glitter with rails, iron in the concrete, golden in 
the visionary. He had already his Court, much against 
his will. The powerful magnetic attractions of those 
who can help the world to fortune, was exercised by him 
in spite of his disgust of sycophants. He dropped words 



'THE PRINCESS EGERIA' 195 

to right and left of a coming work by Antonia. And 
who was Antonia? — ^Ah! there hung the riddle. — ^An 
exalted personage? — So much so that he dared not name 
her even in confidence to ladies ; he named the publishers. 
To men he said he was at Hberty to speak of her only as 
the most beautiful woman of her time. His courtiers 
of both sexes were recommended to read the new story, 
The Princess Egeria. 

Oddly, one great lady of his Court had heard a forth- 
coming work of this title spoken of by Percy Dacier, not 
a man to read silly fiction, unless there was meaning 
behind the lines : that is, rich scandal of the aristocracy, 
diversified by stinging epigrams to the address of dis- 
cernible personages. She talked of The Princess 
Egeria : nay, laid her finger on the identical Princess. 
Others followed her. Dozens were soon flying with the 
torch : a new work immediately to be published from 
the pen of the Duchess of Stars ! — And the Princess who 
lends her title to the book is a living portrait of the 
Princess of Highest Eminence, the Hope of all Civiliza- 
tion. — Orders for copies of The Princess Egeria reached 
the astonished publishers before the book was advertized. 

Speaking to editors, Redworth complimented them with 
friendly intimations of the real authorship of the remark- 
able work appearing. He used a certain penetrative mild- 
ness of tone in saying that 'he hoped the book would 
succeed': it deserved to; it was original ; but the 
originality might tell against it. All would depend upon 
a favourable laimching of such a book. 'Mrs. Warwick? 
Mrs. Warwick?' said the most influential of editors, 
Mr. Marcus Tonans; 'what! that singularly handsome 
woman? . . . The Dannisburgh affair? . . . She's 
Whitmonby's heroine. If she writes as cleverly as she 
talks, her work is worth trumpeting.' He promised to 
see that it went into good hands for the review, and a 



196 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

prompt review — an essential point; none of your long 
digestions of the contents. 

Diana's indefatigable friend had fair assurances that her 
book would be noticed before it dropped dead to the public 
appetite for novelty. He was anxious next, notwith- 
standing his admiration of the originality of the concep- 
tion and the cleverness of the writing, lest the Literary 
Reviews should fail 'to do it justice' : he used the term; 
for if they wounded her, they would take the pleasure 
<out of success; and he had always present to him that 
picture of the beloved woman kneeling at the fire-grate 
;at The Crossways, which made the thought of her suffer- 
ing any wound his personal anguish, so crucially sweet 
.and saintly had her image then been stamped on him. 
He bethought him, in consequence, while sitting in the 
House of Commons, engaged upon the affairs of the 
nation, and honestly engaged, for he was a vigilant 
worker — that the Irish Secretary, Charles Rainer, with 
whom he stood in amicable relations, had an interest, to 
the extent of reputed ownership, in the chief of the 
Literary Reviews. He saw Rainer on the benches, and 
marked him to speak for him. Looking for him shortly 
afterward, the man was gone. ' Off to the Opera, if he 's 
not too late for the drop,' a neighbour said, smiliag queerly, 
as though he ought to know; and then Redworth rec- 
ollected current stories of Rainer's fantastical devotion 
to the popular prima donna of the angelical voice. He 
hurried to the Opera and met the vomit, and heard in the 
crush-room how divine she had been that night. A 
fellow member of the House, tolerably intimate with 
Rainer, informed him, between frightful stomachic 
roulades of her final aria, of the likeliest place where 
Rainer might be found when the Opera was over: not 
at his Club, nor at his chambers : on one of the bridges — 
Westminster, he fancied. 



'THE PRINCESS EGERIA' 197 

There was no need for Redworth to run hunting the 
man at so late an hour, but he was drawn on by the simi- 
larity in dissimilarity of this devotee of a woman, who 
could worship her at a distance, and talk of her to every- 
body. Not till he beheld Rainer's tall figure cutting the 
bridge-parapet, with a star over his shoulder, did he re- 
flect on the views the other might entertain of the 
nocturnal solicitation to see 'justice done' to a lady's 
new book in a particular Review, and the absurd 
outside of the request was immediately smothered by 
the natural simplicity and pressing necessity of its 
inside. 

He crossed the road and said, 'Ah?' in recognition. 
'Were you at the Opera this evening?' 

'Oh, just at the end,' said Rainer, pacing forward. 
' It 's a fine night. Did you hear her?' 

'No; too late.' 

Rainer pressed ahead, to meditate by himself, as was 
his wont. Finding Redworth beside him, he mono- 
loguized in his depths : ' They 'U kill her. She puts her 
soul into it, gives her blood. There 's no failing of the 
voice. You see how it wears her. She 's doomed. Half 
a year's rest on Como . . . somewhere . . . she might 
be saved ! She won't refuse to work.' 

'Have you spoken to her?' said Redworth. 

'And next to Berlin ! Vierma ! A horse would be 

I? I don't know her,' Rainer replied. 'Some of their 
women stand it. She 's delicately built. You can't 
treat a lute like a drum without destroying the instru- 
ment. We look on at a murder !' 

The haggard prospect from that step of the climax 
checked his delivery. 

Redworth knew him to be a sober man in office, a man 
with a head for statecraft : he had made a weighty 
speech in the House a couple of hours back. This Opera 



198 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

cantatrice, no beauty, though gentle, thrilling, winning, 
was his comer of romance. 

'Do you come here often?' he asked. 

'Yes, I can't sleep.' 

'London at night, from the bridge, looks fine. By the 
way . . .' 

'It 's lonely here, that 's the advantage,' said Rainer; 
'I keep silver in my pocket for poor giris going to their 
homes, and I 'm left in peace. An hour later, there 's 
the dawn down yonder.' 

'By the way,' Redworth interposed, and was told that 
after these nights of her singing she never slept till 
morning. He swallowed the fact, sympathized, and 
resumed : ' I want a small favour.' 

'No business here, please !' 

'Not a bit of it. You know Mrs. Warwick. . . . You 
know of her. She 's publishing a book. I want you to 
use your influence to get it noticed quickly, if you can.' 

'Warwick? Oh, yes, a handsome woman. Ah, yes; 
the Dannisburgh affair, yes. What did I hear ! — They 
say she 's thick with Percy Dacier at present. Who was 
talking of her ! Yes, old Lady Dacier. So she 's a friend 
of yours?' 

'She 's an old friend,' said Redworth, composing him- 
self ; for the dose he had taken was not of the sweetest, 
and no protestations could be uttered by a man of the 
world to repel a charge of tattlers. 'The truth is, her 
book is clever. I have read the proofs. She must have 
an income, and she won't apply to her husband, and 
literature should help her, if she 's fairly treated. She 's 
Irish by descent ; Merion's daughter, witty as her father. 
It 's odd you haven't met her. The mere writing of the 
book is extraordinarily good. If it 's put into capable 
hands for review ! that 's all it requires. And full of . 
life . . . bright dialogue . . . capital sketches. The 



'THE PRINCESS EGERIA' 199 

book 's a piece of literature. Only it must have com- 
petent critics !' 

So he talked while Rainer ejaculated: 'Warwick? 
Warwick?' in the irritating tone of dozens of others. 
'What did I hear of her husband? He has a post. . . . 
Yes, yes. Some one said the verdict in that case knocked 
him over — ^heart disease, or something.' 

He glanced at the dark Thames water. 'Take my 
word for it, the groves of Academe won't compare with 
one of our bridges at night, if you seek philosophy. You 
see the London above and the London below : round us 
the sleepy city, and the stars in the water looking like 
souls of suicides. I caught a girl with a bad fit on her 
once. I had to lecture her ! It 's when we become 
parsons we find out our cousinship with these poor peri- 
patetics, whose "last philosophy" is a jump across the 
parapet. The bridge at night is a bath for a public man. 
But choose another ; leave me mine.' 

Redworth took the hint. He stated the title of Mrs. 
Warwick's book, and imagined from the thoughtful cast 
of Rainer's head, that he was impressing The Pbincess 
Egekia on his memory. 

Rainer burst out, with clenched fists: 'He beats her! 
The fellow lives on her and beats her; strikes that 
woman ! He drags her about to every Capital in Europe 
to make money for him, and the scoundrel pays her with 
blows.' 

In the course of a heavy tirade against the scoundrel, 
Redworth apprehended that it was the cantatrice's 
husband. He expressed his horror and regret; paused, 
and named The Princess Egeria and a certain Critical 
Review. Another outburst seemed to be in preparation. 
Nothing further was to be done for the book at that hour. 
So, with a blunt 'Good night,' he left Charles Rainer 
pacing, and thought on his walk home of the strange 



200 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

effects wrought by women unwittingly upon men (English- 
men) ; those women, or some of them, as little knowing 
it as the moon her traditional influence upon the tides. 
He thought of Percy Dacier too. In his bed he could 
have wished himself peregrinating a bridge. 

The Princess Egeeia appeared, with the reviews at her 
heels, a pack of clappers, causing her to fly over editions 
clean as a doe the gates and hedges — to quote Mr. Sullivan 
Smith, who knew not a sentence of the work save what 
he gathered of it from Redworth, at their chance meeting 
on Piccadilly pavement, and then immediately he knew 
enough to blow his huntsman's horn in honour of the sale. 
His hallali rang high. ' Here 's another Irish girl to win 
their laurels ! 'Tis one of the blazing successes. A most 
enthralling work, beautifully composed. And where is 
she now, Mr. Redworth, since she broke away from that 
husband of hers, that wears the clothes of the worst 
tailor ever begotten by a thread on a needle, as I teK 
every soul of 'em in my part of the country?' 

'You have seen him?' said Redworth. 

'Why, sir, wasn't he on show at the Court he applied to 
for relief and damages ? as we heard when we were watch- 
ing the case daUy, scarce drawing our breath for fear the 
innocent — and one of our own blood, would be crushed. 
Sure, there he stood; ay, and looking the very donkey 
for a woman to flip off her fingers, like the dust from my 
great uncle's prise of snuff ! She 's a glory to the old 
country. And better you than another, I 'd say, since it 
wasn't an Irishman to have her: but what induced the 
dear lady to take him, is the question we 're all of us 
asking ! And it 's mournful to think that somehow you 
contrive to get the pick of us in the girls ! If ever we 're 
united, 'twill be by a trick of circumvention of that sort, 
pretty sure. There 's a turn in the market when they 
shut their eyes and drop to the handiest : and London 's 



'THE PRINCESS EGERIA' 201 

a vortex that poor dear dull old Dublin can't compete 
with. I '11 beg you for the address of the lady her friend, 
Lady Dunstane.' 

Mr. Sullivan Smith walked with Redworth through the 
park to the House of Commons, discoursing of Rails and 
his excellent old friend's rise to the top rung of the ladder 
and Beanstalk land, so elevated that one had to look up 
at him with watery eyes, as if one had flung a ball at the 
meridian sun. Arrived at famed St. Stephen's, he sent in 
his compliments to the noble patriot and accepted an 
invitation to dinner. 

'And mind you read The Princess Egeria,' said 
Redworth. 

'Again and again, my friend. The book is bought.' 
Sullivan Smith slapped his breastpocket. 

'There 's a bit of Erin in it.' 

'It sprouts from Erin.' 

'Trumpet it.' 

'Loud as cavalry to the charge !' 

Once with the title stamped on his memory, the zealous 
Irishman might be trusted to become an ambulant adver- 
tizer. Others, personal friends, adherents, courtiers of 
Redworth's, were active. Lady Pennon and Henry 
Wilmers, in the upper circle ; Whitmonby and Westlake, 
in the literary ; spread the fever for this new book. The 
chief interpreter of public opinion caught the way of the 
wind and headed the gale. 

Editions of the book did really run like fires in summer 
furze ; and to such an extent that a simple literary per- 
formance grew to be respected in Great Britain, as repre- 
senting Money. 



202 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

CHAPTER XVIII 

THE AUTHORESS 

The effect of a great success upon Diana, at her second 
literary venture, was shown in the transparent sedateness 
of a letter she wrote to Emma Dunstane, as much as in 
ier immediate and complacent acceptance of the magical 
change of her fortunes. She spoke one thing and acted 
another, but did both with a lofty calm that deceived the 
admiring friend who clearly saw the authoress behind her 
mask, and feared lest she should be too confidently trust- 
ing to the powers of her pen to support an establishment. 
'If the public were a perfect instrument to strike on, I 
should be tempted to take the wonderful success of my 
Princess at her first appearance for a proof of natural 
aptitude in composition, and might think myself the 
genius. I know it to be as little a Stradivarius as I am 
a Paganini. It is an eccentric machine, in tune with me 
for the moment, because I happen to have hit it in the 
ringing spot. The book is a new face appealing to a mirror 
of the common surface emotions ; and the kitchen rather 
than the dairy offers an analogy for the real value of that 
"top-skim." I have not seen what I consider good in 
the book once mentioned among the laudatory notices — 
except by your dear hand, my Emmy. Be sure I will 
stand on guard against the "vaporous generalizations," 
and other "tricks" you fear. Now that you are study- 
ing Latin for an occupation — ^how good and wise it was 
of Mr. Redworth to propose it ! — I look upon you with 
awe as a classic authority and critic. I wish I had leisure 
to study with you. What I do is nothing like so solid 
and durable. 



THE AUTHORESS 203 

'The Princess Egeria originally (I must have written 
word of it to you — I remember the evening off Palermo !) 
was conceived as a sketch ; by gradations she grew into a 
sort of semi-Scud6ry romance, and swelled to her present 
portliness. That was done by a great deal of piecing, 
not to say puffing, of her frame. She would be healthier 
-and have a chance of living longer if she were reduced by a 
reversal of the processes. But how would the judicious 
clippings and prickings affect our "pensive public"? 
Now that I have furnished a house and have a fixed 
address, under the paws of creditors, I feel I am in the 
wizard-circle of my popularity and subscribe to its laws or 
waken to incubus and the desert. Have I been rash? 
You do not pronounce. If I have bound myself to pipe 
as others please, it need not be entirely ; and I can promise 
you it shall not be ; but still I am sensible when I lift my 
^'little quill" of having forced the note of a woodland 
wren into the popular nightingale's — which may end 
in the daw's, from straining ; or worse, a toy-whistle. 

'That is, in the field of literature. Otherwise, within 
me deep, I am not aware of any transmutation of the 
celestial into coined gold. I sound myself, and ring clear. 
Incessant writing is my refuge, my solace — escape out 
of the personal net. I delight in it, as in my early morn- 
ing walks at Lugano, when I went threading the streets 
and by the lake away to "the heavenly mount," like a 
dim idea worming upward in a sleepy head to bright 
wakefulness. 

'My anonjrmous critic, of whom I told you, is intoxi- 
cating with eulogy. The signature "Apollonius" ap- 
pears to be of literary-middle indication. He marks 
passages approved by you. I have also had a complimen- 
tary letter from Mr. Dacier. 

'For an instance of this delight I have in writing, so 
^trong is it that I can read pages I have written, and tear 



204 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the stuif to strips (I did yesterday), and resume, as if 
nothing had happened. The waves within are ready for 
any displacement. That must be a good sign. I do 
not doubt of excelling my Peincess ; and if she received 
compliments, the next may hope for more. Consider, too, 
the novel pleasure of earning money by the labour we 
delight in. It is an answer to your question whether I 
am happy. Yes, as the savage islander before the ship 
entered the bay with the fire-water. My blood is wine, 
and I have the slumbers of an infant. I dream, wake, 
forget my dream, barely dress before the pen is galloping ; 
barely breakfast ; no toilette till noon. A savage in good 
sooth ! You see, my Emmy, I could not house with the 
"companionable person" you hint at. The poles can 
never come together till the earth is crushed. She would 
find my habits intolerable, and I hers contemptible, 
though we might both be companionable persons. My 
dear, I could not even live with myself. My blessed little 
quill, which helps me divinely to live out of myself, is 
and must continue to be my one companion. It is my 
mountain height, morning light, wings, cup from the 
springs, my horse, my goal, my lancet and replenisher, 
my key of communication with the highest, grandest, 
holiest between earth and heaven — the vital air con- 
necting them. 

'In justice let me add that I have not been troubled by 
hearing of any of the mysterious legal claims, et caetera. 
I am sorry to hear bad reports of health. I wish him 
entire felicity — no step taken to bridge division ! The 
thought of it makes me tigrish. 

'A new pianist playing his own pieces (at Lady Sin- 
gleby's concert) has given me exquisite pleasure and set 
me composing songs — ^not to his music, which could be 
rendered only by sylphs moving to "soft recorders" in 
the humour of wildness, languor, bewitching caprices. 



THE AUTHORESS 205 

giving a new sense to melody. How I wish you had been 
with me to hear him ! It was the most iEolian thing ever 
caught from a night-breeze by the soul of a poet. 

'But do not suppose me having headlong tendencies to 
the melting mood. (The above, by the way, is a Pole 
settled in Paris, and he is to be introduced to me at Lady 
Pennon's.) — ^What do you say to my being invited by Mr. 
Whitmonby to aid him in writing leading articles for the 
paper he is going to conduct ! " write as you talk and it 
will do," he says. I am choosing my themes. To write 
— of politics — as I talk, seems to me like an effort to jump 
away from my shadow. The black dog of consciousness 
declines to be shaken off. If some one commanded me 
to talk as I write ! I suspect it would be a way of winding 
me up to a sharp critical pitch rapidly. 

' Not good news of Lord D. I have had messages. Mr. 
Dacier conceals his alarm. The Phincess gave great grati- 
fication. She did me her best service there. Is it not 
cruel that the interdict of the censor should force me to 
depend for information upon such scraps as I get from 
a gentleman passing my habitation on his way to the 
House? And he is not, he never has been, sympathetic 
in that direction. He sees my grief, and assumes an 
undertakerly air, with some notion of acting in concert, 
one supposes — ^little imagining how I revolt from that 
crape-hatband formalism of sorrow ! 

' One word of her we call our inner I. I am not draw- 
ing upon her resources for my daily needs ; not wasting 
her at all, I trust ; certainly not waUing her up, to deafen 
her voice. It would be to fall away from you. She bids 
me sign myself, my beloved, ever, ever your Tony.' 

The letter had every outward show of sincereness in ex- 
pression, and was endowed to wear that appearance by 
the writer's impulse to protest with so resolute a vigour 
as to delude herself. Lady Dunstane heard of Mr. Dacier's 



206 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

novel attendance at concerts. The world made a note of 
it; for the gentleman was notoriously without ear for 
music. 

Diana's comparison of her hours of incessant writiag to 
her walks under the dawn at Lugano, her boast of the- 
similarity of her delight in both, deluded her uncorrupted. 
conscience to believe that she was now spiritually as free 
as in that fair season of the new spring in her veins. She 
was not an investigating physician, nor was Lady Dun- 
stane,. otherwise they would have examined the material, 
points of her conduct — indicators of the spiritual secret 
always. What are the patient's acts? The patient's 
mind was projected too far beyond them to see the fore- 
finger they stretched at her; and the friend's was not 
that of a prying doctor on the look out for betraying, 
sjmaptoms. Lady Dunstane did ask herself why Tony- 
should have incurred the burden of a costly household — 
a very costly : Sir Lukin had been at one of Tony's little; 
dinners : — ^but her wish to meet the world on equal terms, 
after a long dependency, accounted for it in seeming tO' 
excuse. The guests on the occasion were Lady Pennon, 
Lady Singleby, Mr. Whitmonby, Mr. Percy Dacier,, 
Mr. Tonans; — 'Some other woman,' Sir Lukin said, and 
himself. He reported the cookery as matching the 
conversation, and that was princely ; the wines not less : 
and extraordinary fact to note of a woman. But to hear 
Whitmonby and Diana Warwick ! How he told a story, 
neat as a postman's knock, and she tipped it with a remark 
and ran to a second, drawing in Lady Pennon, and then 
Dacier, 'and me!' cried Sir Lukin; 'she made us all 
toss the ball from hand to hand, and all talk up to the? 
mark ; and none of us noticed that we all went together 
to the drawing-room, where we talked for another hour, 
and broke up fresher than we began.' 

'That break between the men and the women after 



THE AUTHORESS 207 

dinner was Tony's aversion, and I am glad she has insti- 
tuted a change,' said Lady Dunstane. 

She heard also from Redworth of the unexampled con- 
cert of the guests at Mrs. Warwick's dinner parties. He 
had met on one occasion the Esquarts, the Pettigrews, 
Mr. Percy Dacier, and a Miss Paynham. Redworth had 
not a word to say of the expensive household. Whatever 
Mrs. Warwick did was evidently good to him. On another 
evening the party was composed of Lady Pennon, Lord 
Larrian, Miss Paynham, a clever Mrs. Wollasley, Mr. 
Henry Wilmers, and again Mr. Percy Dacier. 

When Diana came to Copsley, Lady Dunstane remarked 
on the recurrence of the name of Miss Paynham in the list 
of her guests. 

'And Mr. Percy Dacier's too,' said Diana, smiling. 
'They are invited each for specific reasons. It pleases 
Lord Dannisburgh to hear that a way has been found to 
enliven his nephew; and my little dinners are effective, 
I think. He wakes. Yesterday evening he capped flying 
jests with Mr. Sullivan Smith. But you speak of Miss 
Paynham.' Diana lowered her voice on half a dozen 
syllables, till the half-tones dropped into her steady look. 
'You approve, Emmy?' 

The answer was : ' I do — true or not.' 

' Between us two, dear, I fear ! ... In either case, she 
has been badly used. Society is big engine enough to 
protect itself. I incline with British juries to do rough 
justice to the victims. She has neither father nor brother. 
I have had no confidences : but it wears the look of a 
cowardly business. With two words in his ear, I could 
arm an Irishman to do some work of chastisement : — ^he 
would select the rascal's necktie for a cause of quarrel : 
and lords have to stand their ground as well as commoners. 
They measure the same number of feet when stretched 
their length. However, vengeance with the heavens ! 



208 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

though they seem tardy. Lady Pennon has been very 
kind about it; and the Esquarts invite her to 
Lockton. Shoulder to shoulder, the tide may be 
stemmed.' 

'She would have gone under, but for you, dear Tony !' 
said Emma, folding arms round her darling's neck and 
kissing her. ' Bring her here some day.' 

Diana did not promise it. She had her vision of Sir 
Lukin in his fit of lunacy. 

'I am too weak for London now,' Emma resumed. *I 
should like to be useful. Is she pleasant?' 

'Sprightly by nature. She has worn herself with 
fretting.' 

'Then bring her to stay with me, if I cannot keep you. 
She will talk of you to me.' 

'I will bring her for a couple of days,' Diana said. 'I 
am too busy to remain longer. She paints portraits to 
amuse herself. She ought to be pushed, wherever she is 
received about London, while the season is warm. One 
season will suffice to establish her. She is pretty, near 
upon six and twenty: foolish, of course: she pays for 
having had a romantic head. Heavy pajonent, Emmy ! 
I drive at laws, but hers is an instance of the creatures 
wanting simple human kindness.' 

'The good law will come with a better civilization; but 
before society can be civilized it has to be debarbarized,' 
Emma remarked, and Diana sighed over the task and the 
truism. 

'I should have said in younger days, because it wUl not 
look plainly on our nature and try to reconcile it with our 
conditions. But now I see that the sin is cowardice. 
The more I know of the world the more clearly I perceive 
that its top and bottom sin is cowardice, physically and 
morally alike. Lord Larrian owns to there being few 
heroes in an army. We must fawn in society. What 



THE AUTHORESS 209 

is the meaning of that dread of one example of tolerance ? 

my dear ! let us give it the right name. Society is ) 
the best thing we have, but it is a crazy vessel worked by ( 
a crew that formerly practised piracy, and now, in ex-| 
piation, professes piety, fearful of a discovered Omnip-| 
otence, which is in the image of themselves and captain. 
Their old habits are not quite abandoned,' and their new \ 
one is used as a lash to whip the exposed of us for a pro- ; 
pitiation of the capricious potentate whom they worship, 
in the place of the true God.' 

Lady Dunstane sniffed. ' I smell the leading article.' 

Diana joined with her smile, 'No, the style is rather 
different.' 

'Have you not got into a trick of composing in speak- 
ing, at times?' 

Diana confessed, 'I think I have at times. Perhaps 
the daily writing of all kinds and the nightly talking . . . 

1 may be getting strained.' 

'No, Tony; but longer visits in the coimtry to me 
would refresh you. I miss your lighter touches. London 
is a school, but, you know it, not a school for comedy nor 
for philosophy ; that is gathered on my hiUs, with London 
distantly in view, and then occasional descents on it well 
digested.' 

'I wonder whether it is affecting me!' said Diana, 
musing. 'A metropolitan hack! and while thinking 
myself free, thrice harnessed ; and all my fun gone. Am 
I really as dull as a tract, my dear? I must be, or I 
should be proving the contrary instead of asking. My 
pitfall is to fancy I have powers equal to the first look-out 
of the eyes of the morning. Enough of me. We talked 
of Mary Paynham. K only some right good man would 
marry her !' 

Lady Dunstane guessed at the right good man in Diana's 
mind. 'Do you bring them together?' 



210 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Diana nodded, and then shook doleful negatives to 
signify no hope. 

'None whatever — if we mean the same person,' said 
Lady Dunstane, bethinking her, in the spirit of wrath she 
felt at such a scheme being planned by Diana to snare the 
right good man, that instead of her own true lover Red- 
worth, it might be only Percy Dacier. So filmy of mere 
sensations are these little ideas as they flit in converse, 
that she did not reflect on her friend's ignorance of Red- 
worth's love of her, or on the unlikely choice of one in 
Dacier's high station to reinstate a damsel. 

They did not name the person. 

'Passing the instance, which is cruel, I will be just to 
society thus far,' said Diana. 'I was in a boat at Rich- 
mond last week, and Leander was revelling along the 
mud-banks, and took it into his head to swim out to me, 
and I was moved to take him on board. The ladies in the 
boat objected, for he was not only wet but very muddy. I 
was forced to own that their objections were reasonable. 
My sentimental humaneness had no argument against 
muslin dresses, though my dear dog's eyes appealed 
pathetically, and he would keep swimming after us. The 
analogy excuses the world for protecting itself in extreme 
cases ; nothing, nothing excuses its insensibility to cases 
which may be pleaded. You see the pirate crew turned 
pious — ^ferocious in sanctity.' She added, half laughing : 
'I am reminded by the boat, I have unveiled my anony- 
mous critic, and had a woeful disappointment. He wrote 
like a veteran; he is not much more than a boy. I re- 
ceived a volume of verse, and a few lines begging my 
acceptance. I fancied I knew the writing, and wrote 
asking him whether I had not to thank him, and inviting 
him to call. He seems a nice lad of about two and 
twenty, mad for literature; and he must have talent. 
Arthur Rhodes by name. I may have a chance of helping 



THE AUTHORESS 211 

him. He was an articled clerk of Mr. Braddock's, the 
same who valiantly came to my rescue once. He was 
with us in the boat.' 

' Bring him to me some day/ said Lady Dunstane. 

Miss Paynham's visit to Copsley was arranged, and it 
turned out a failure. The poor young lady came in a 
flutter, thinking that the friend of Mrs. Warwick would 
expect her to discourse cleverly. She attempted it, to 
Diana's amazement. Lady Dunstane's opposingly corre- 
sponding stillness provoked Miss Paynham to expatiate, 
for she had sprightliness and some mental reserves of the 
common order. Clearly, Lady Dunstane mused while 
listening amiably, Tony never covdd have designed this 
gabbler for the mate of Thomas Redworth ! 

Percy Dacier seemed to her the more likely one, in that 
light, and she thought so still, after Sir Lukin had intro- 
duced him at Copsley for a couple of days of the himting 
season. Tony's manner with him suggested it ; she had 
a dash of leadership. They were not intimate in look or 
tongue. 

But Percy Dacier also was too good for Miss Paynham, 
if that was Tony's plan for him. Lady Dunstane thought, 
with the relentlessness of an invalid and recluse's distaste. 
An aspect of penitence she had not demanded, but the 
silly gabbler under a stigma she could not pardon. 

Her opinion of Miss Paynham was diffused in her 
silence. 

Speaking of Mr. Dacier, she remarked, 'As you say of 
him, Tony, he can brighten, and when you give him a 
chance he is entertaining. He has fine gifts. If I were a 
member of his family I should beat about for a match for 
him. He strikes me as one of the young men who would 
do better married.' 

' He is doing very well, but the wonder is that he doesn't 
marry,' said Diana. 'He ought to be engaged. Lady 



212 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Esquart told me that he was. A Miss Asper — ^great 
heiress; and the Daciers want money. However, there 
it is.' 

Not many weeks later Diana could not have spoken of 
Mr. Percy Dacier with this air of indifference without 
corruption of her inward guide. 



CHAPTER XIX 

• A DRIVE IN SUNLIGHT AND A DRIVE IN MOONLIGHT 

The fatal time to come for her was in the Summer of that 
year. 

Emma had written her a letter of unwonted bright 
spirits, contrasting strangely with an inexplicable oppres- 
sion of her own that led her to imagine her recent placid 
life the pause before thunder, and to share the mood of 
her solitary friend she flew to Copsley, finding Sir Lukin 
absent, as usual. They drove out immediately after 
breakfast, on one of those high mornings of the bared 
bosom of June when distances are given to our eyes, and 
a soft air fondles leaf and grassblade, and beauty and 
peace are overhead, reflected, if we wUl. Rain had fallen 
in the night. Here and there hung a milkwhite cloud 
with folded sail. The South-west left it in its bay of blue, 
and breathed below. At moments the fresh scent of 
herb and mould swung richly in warmth. The young 
beech-leaves glittered, pools of rain-water made the road- 
ways laugh, the grass-banks under hedges rolled their 
interwoven weeds in cascades of many-shaded green to 
right and left of the pair of dappled ponies, and a squirrel 
crossed ahead, a lark went up a little way to ease his 
heart, closing his wings when the burst was over, startled 



SUNLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT DRIVES 213 

black-birds, darting with a clamour like a broken cock- 
crow, looped the wayside woods from hazel to oak-scrub ; 
short flights, quick spirts everywhere, steady sunshine 
above. 

Diana held the reins. The whip was an ornament, as 
the pliune of feathers to the general officer. Lady Dim- 
stane's ponies were a present from Redworth, who always 
chose the pick of the land for his gifts. They joyed in 
their trot, and were the very love-birds of the breed for 
their pleasure of going together, so like that Diana called 
them the Dromios. Through an old gravel-cutting a 
gateway led to the turf of the down, springy turf bordered 
on a long line, clear as a racecourse, by golden gorse 
covers, and leftward over the gorse the dark ridge of the 
fir and heath country ran companionably to the South- 
west, the valley between, with undulations of wood and 
meadow sunned or shaded, cliunps, mounds, promon- 
tories, away to broad spaces of tillage banked by wooded 
hOls, and dimmer beyond and farther, the faintest shadowi- 
ness of heights, as a veU to the illimitable. Yews, jimipers, 
radiant beeches, and gleams of the service-tree or the 
white-beam spotted the semicircle of swelling green Down 
black and silver. The sun in the valley sharpened his 
beams on squares of buttercups, and made a pond a 
diamond. 

'You see, Tony,' Emma said, for a comment on the 
scene, 'I could envy Italy for having you, more than you 
for being in Italy.' 

'Feature and colour!' said Diana. 'You have them 
here, and on a scale that one can embrace. I should like 
to build a hut on this point, and wait for such a day to 
return. It brings me to life.' She lifted her eyelids on 
her friend's worn sweet face, and knowing her this friend 
up to death, past it in her hopes, she said bravely, 'It is 
the Emma of days and scenes to me! It helps me to 



214 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

forget myself, as I do when I think of you, dearest ; but 
the subject has latterly been haunting me, I don't know 
why, and ominously, as if my nature were about to 
horrify my soul. But I am not sentimentalizing, you are 
really this day and scene in my heart.' 

Emma smiled confidingly. She spoke her reflection: 
'The heart must be troubled a little to have the thought. 
The flower I gather here tells me that we may be happy in 
privation and suffering if simply we can accept beauty. I 
won't say expel the passions, but keep passion sober, a 
trotter in harness.' 

Diana caressed the ponies' heads with the droop of her 
whip : 'I don't think I know him !' she said. 

Between sincerity and a suspicion so cloaked and dull 
that she did not feel it to be the opposite of candour, she 
fancied she was passionless because she could accept the 
visible beauty, which was Emma's prescription and test ; 
and she forced herself to make much of it, cling to it, 
devour it ; with envy of Emma's contemplative happiness, 
through whose grave mind she tried to get to the peace in 
it, imagining that she succeeded. The cloaked and dull 
suspicion weighed within her nevertheless. She took'it for 
a mania to speculate on herself. There are states of the 
crimson blood when the keenest wits are childish, notably 
in great-hearted women aiming at the majesty of their sex 
and fearful of confounding it by the look direct and the 
downright word. Yet her nature compelled her inwardly 
to phrase the sentence: 'Emma is a wife!' The char- 
acter of her husband was not considered, nor was the 
meaning of the exclamation pursued. 

They drove through the gorse into wild land of heath 
and flowering hawthorn, and along by tracts of yew and 
juniper to another point, jutting on a furzy sand-mound, 
rich with the mild splendour of English scenery, which 
Emma stamped on her friend's mind by saying: 'A 



SUNLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT DRIVES 215 

cripple has little to envy in you who can fly when she has 
feasts like these at her doors.' 

They had an inclination to boast on the drive home of 
the solitude they had enjoyed; and just then, as the 
road in the wood wound under great beeches, they beheld 
a London hat. The hat was plucked from its head. A 
clear-faced youth, rather flushed, dusty at the legs, 
addressed Diana. 

'Mr. Rhodes !' she said, not discouragingly. 

She was petitioned to excuse him; he thought she 
would wish to hear the news in town last night as early as 
possible ; he hesitated and murmured it. 

Diana turned to Emma: 'Lord Dannisburgh !' — her 
paleness told the rest. 

Hearing from Mr. Rhodes that he had walked the dis- 
tance from town, and had been to Copsley, Lady Dunstane 
invited him to follow the pony-carriage thither, where he 
was fed and refreshed by a tea-breakfast, as he preferred 
walking on tea, he said. *I took the liberty to call at 
Mrs. Warwick's house,' he informed her; 'the footman 
said she was at Copsley. I found it on the map — I knew 
the direction — and started about two in the morning. I 
wanted a walk.' 

It was evident to her that he was one of the young 
squires bewitched whom beautiful women are constantly 
enlisting. There was no concealment of it, though he 
stirred a sad enviousness in the invalid lady by descanting 
on the raptures of a walk out of London in the youngest 
light of day, and on the common objects he had noticed 
along the roadside, and through the woods, more sustain- 
ing, closer with nature than her compulsory feeding on the 
cream of things. 

'You are not fatigued?' she inquired, hoping for that 
confession at least; but she pardoned his bo3dsh vaunt- 
ing to walk the distance back without any fatigue at all. 



216 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

He had a sweeter reward for his pains; and if the 
business of the chronicler allowed him to become attached 
to pure throbbing felicity wherever it is encountered, he 
might be diverted by the blissful unexpectedness of good 
fortune befalling Mr. Arthur Rhodes in having the honour 
to conduct Mrs. Warwick to town. No imagined happi- 
ness, even in the heart of a young man of two and twenty, 
could have matched it. He was by her side, hearing and 
seeing her, not less than four hours. To add to his happi- 
ness, Lady Dunstane said she would be glad to welcome 
him again. She thought him a pleasant specimen of the 
self-vowed squire. 

Diana was sure that there would be a communication for 
her of some sort at her house in London; perhaps a 
message of farewell from the dying lord, now dead. Mr. 
Rhodes had only the news of the evening journals, to the 
effect that Lord Dannisburgh had expired at his residence, 
the Priory, Hallowmere, in Hampshire. A message of 
farewell from him, she hoped for: knowing him as she 
did, it seemed a certainty ; and she hungered for that last 
gleam of life in her friend. She had no anticipation of 
the burden of the message awaiting her. 

A consultation as to the despatching of the message, 
had taken place among the members of Lord Dannis- 
burgh's family present at his death. Percy Dacier was 
one of them, and he settled the disputed point, after some 
time had been spent in persuading his father to take the 
plain view of obligation in the matter, and in opposing 
the dowager countess, his grandmother, by stating that 
he had already sent a special messenger to London. Lord 
Dannisburgh on his death-bed had expressed a wish that 
Mrs. Warwick would sit with him for an hour one night 
before the nails were knocked in his coffin. He spoke of 
it twice, putting it the second time to Percy as a formal 
request to be made to her, and Percy had promised him 



SUNLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT DRIVES 217 

that Mrs. Warwick should have the message. He had 
done his best to keep his pledge, aware of the disrelish of 
the whole family for the lady's name, to say nothing of 
her presence. 

'She won't come,' said the earl. 

' She 'U come,' said old Lady Dacier. 

'If the woman respects herself she 'U hold off it,' the 
earl insisted because of his desire that way. He signified 
in mutterings that the thing was improper and absurd, a 
piece of sentiment, sickly senility, unlike Lord Dannis- 
burgh. Also that Percy had been guilty of excessive 
folly. 

To which Lady Dacier nodded her assent, remarking : 
'The woman is on her mettle. From what I 've heard 
of her, she 's not a woman to stick at trifles. She '11 take 
it as a sort of ordeal by touch, and she '11 come.' 

They joined in abusing Percy, who had driven away to 
another part of the country. Lord Creedmore, the heir of 
the house, was absent, hunting in America, or he might 
temporarily have been taken into favour by contrast. 
Ultimately they agreed that the woman must be allowed 
to enter the house, but could not be received. The earl 
was a widower; his mother managed the family, and 
being hard to convince, she customarily carried her point,, 
save when it involved Percy's freedom of action. She was 
one of the veterans of her sex that age to toughness ; and 
the 'hysterical fuss' she apprehended in the visit of this 
woman to Lord Dannisburgh's death-bed and body, did 
not alarm her. For the sake of the household she deter- 
mined to remain, shut up in her room. Before night the 
house was empty of any members of the family excepting: 
old Lady Dacier and the outstretched figure on the bed. 

Dacier fled to escape the hearing of the numberless 
ejaculations re-awakened in the family by his uncle's 
extraordinary dying request. They were an outrage ta 



218 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the lady, of whom he could now speak as a privileged 
champion; and the request itself had an air of proving 
her stainless, a white soul and efficacious advocate at the 
celestial gates (reading the mind of the dying man). So 
he thought at one moment : he had thought so when 
charged with the message to her ; had even thought it a 
natural wish that she should look once on the face she 
would see no more, and say farewell to it, considering that 
in life it could not be requested. But the susceptibility 
to sentimental emotion beside a death-bed, with a dying 
man's voice in the ear, requires fortification if it is to be 
maintained; and the review of his uncle's character did 
not tend to make this very singular request a proof that 
the lady's innocence was honoured in it. His epicurean 
uncle had no profound esteem for the kind of innocence. 
He had always talked of Mrs. Warwick with warm re- 
spect for her : Dacier knew that he had bequeathed her a 
sum of money. The inferences were either way. Lord 
Dannisburgh never spoke evilly of any woman, and he 
was perhaps bound to indemnify her materially as well as 
he could for what she had suffered. — On the other hand, 
how easy it was to be the dupe of a woman so handsome 
and clever. — Unlikely too that his uncle would consent to 
sit at the Platonic banquet with her. — ^Judging by him- 
self, Dacier deemed it possible for man. He was not 
quick to kindle, and had lately seen much of her, had 
found her a Lady Egeria, helpful in counsel, prompting, 
inspiriting, reviving as well-waters, and as temperately 
cool: not one sign of native slipperiness. Nor did she 
stir the mud in him upon which proud man is built. The 
shadow of the scandal had checked a few shifty sensations 
rising now and then of their own accord, and had laid 
them, with the lady's benign connivance. This was good 
proof in her favour, seeing that she must have perceived 
of late the besetting thirst he had for her company ; and 



SUNLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT DRIVES 219 

alone. or in the medley equally. To see her, hear, ex- 
change ideas with her ; and to talk of new books, try to 
listen to music at the opera and at concerts, and admire 
her playing of hostess, were novel pleasures, giAong him 
fresh notions of life, and strengthening rather than dis- 
turbing the course of his life's business. 

At any rate, she was capable of friendship. Why not 
resolutely beheve that she had been his uncle's true and 
simple friend ! He adopted the resolution, thanking her 
for one recognized fact : — ^he hated marriage, and would 
by this time have been in the yoke, but for the agreeable 
deviation of his path to her society. Since his visit to 
Copsley, moreover. Lady Dunstane's idolizing of her 
friend had influenced him. Reflecting on it, he recovered 
from the shock which his uncle's request had caused. 

Certain positive calculations were running side by side 
with the speculations in vapour. His messenger would 
reach her house at about four of the afternoon. If then at 
home, would she decide to start immediately? — ^Would 
she come? That was a question he did not delay to 
answer. Would she defer the visit? Death replied to 
that. She would not delay it. 

She would be sure to come at once. And what of the 
welcome she would meet ? Leaving the station at London 
at six in the evening, she might arrive at the Priory, all 
impediments counted, between ten and eleven at night. 
Thence, coldly greeted, or not greeted, to the chamber of 
death. 

A pitiable and cruel reception for a woman upon such a 
mission ! 

His mingled calculations and meditations reached that 

exclamatory terminus in feeling, and settled on the 

picture of Diana, about as clear as light to blinking eyes, 

but enough for him to realize her being there and alone, 

^ woefully alone. The supposition of an absolute loneliness 



220 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

was most possible. He had intended to drive back 
the next day, when the domestic storm would be over, 
and take the chances of her coming. It seemed now a 
piece of duty to return at night, a traverse of twenty 
rough up and down miles from Itchenford to the heath- 
land rolling on the chalk wave of the Surrey borders, 
easily done after the remonstrances of his host were 
stopped. 

Dacier sat in an open carriage, facing a slip of bright 
moon. Poetical impressions, emotions, any stirrings of 
his mind by the sensational stamp on it, were new to him, 
and while he swam in them, both lulled and pricked by 
his novel accessibility to nature's lyrical touch, he asked 
himself whether, if he were near the throes of death, the 
thought of having Diana Warwick to sit beside his vacant 
semblance for an hour at night would be comforting. 
And why had his uncle specified an hour of the night? 
It was a sentiment, like the request : curious in a man so 
little sentimental. Yonder crescent running the shadowy 
round of the hoop roused comparisons. Would one really 
wish to have her beside one in death? In life — ah! 
But suppose her denied to us in life. Then the desire for 
her companionship appears passingly comprehensible. 
Enter into the sentiment, you see that the hour of dark- 
ness is naturally chosen. And would even a grand old 
Pagan crave the presence beside his dead body for an 
hour of the night of a woman he did not esteem ? Dacier 
answered no. The negative was not echoed in his mind. 
He repeated it, and to the same deadness. 

He became aware that he had spoken for himself, and 
he had a fit of sourness. For who can say he is not a fool 
before he has been tried by a woman ! Dacier's wretched 
tendency under vexation to conceive grotesque analogies, 
anti-poetic, not to say cockney similes, which had slightly 
chilled Diana at Rovio, set him looking at yonder crescent 



SUNLIGHT AND MOONLIGHT DRIVES 221 

with the hoop, as at the shape of a white cat cHmbing a 
wheel. Men of the northern blood will sometimes lend 
their assent to poetical images, even to those that do not 
stun the mind like bludgeons and imperatively, by much 
repetition, command their assent; and it is for a solid 
exchange and interest in usury with soft poetical creatures 
when they are so condescending ; but they are seized by 
the grotesque. In spite of efforts to efface or supplant it, 
he saw the white cat, nothing else, even to thinking that 
she had jumped cleverly to catch the wheel. He was 
a true descendant of practical hard-grained fighting 
Northerners, of gnarled dwarf imaginations, chivalrous 
though they were, and heroes to have serviceable and 
valiant gentlemen for issue. Without at all tracing 
back to its origia his detestable image of the white cat on 
the dead circle, he kicked at the links between his uncle 
and Diana Warwick, whatever they had been; partic- 
ularly at the present revival of them. Old Lady Dacier's 
blunt speech, and his father's fixed opinion, hissed in his 
head. 

They were ignorant of his autumnal visit to the Italian 
Lakes, after the winter's Nile-boat expedition; and also 
of the degree of his recent intimacy with Mrs. Warwick; 
or else, as he knew, he would have heard more hissing 
things. Her patronage of Miss Paynham exposed her to 
attacks where she was deemed vulnerable; Lady Dacier 
muttered old saws as to the flocking of birds ; he did not 
accurately understand it, thought it indiscreet, at best. 
But in regard to his experience, he could tell himself that 
a woman more guileless of luring never drew breath. On 
the contrary, candour said it had always been he who had 
schemed and pressed for the meeting. He was at liberty 
to do it, not being bound in honour elsewhere. Besides, 
despite his acknowledgement of her beauty, Mrs. Warwick 
was not quite his ideal of the perfectly beautiful woman. 



222 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Constance Asper came nearer to it. He had the English 
taste for red and white, and for cold outlines : he secretly 
admired a statuesque demeanour with a statue's eyes. 
The national approbation of a reserved haughtiness in 
woman, a tempered disdain in her slightly lifted small 
upperlip and drooped eyelids, was shared by him; and 
Constance Asper, if not exactly aristocratic by birth, 
stood well for that aristocratic insular type, which seems 
to promise the husband of it a casket of all the trusty 
virtues, as well as the security of frigidity in the casket. 
Such was Dacier's native taste; consequently the at- 
tractions of Diana Warwick for him were, he thought, 
chiefly mental, those of a Lady Egeria. She might or 
might not be good, in the vulgar sense. She was an 
agreeable woman, an amusing companion, very suggestive, 
inciting, animating ; and her past history must be left as 
her own. Did it matter to him? What he saw was 
bright, a silver crescent on the side of the shadowy ring. 
Were it a question of marrying her! — ^That was out 
of the possibilities. He remembered, moreover, having 
heard from a man, who professed to know, that Mrs. 
Warwick had started in married life by treating her 
husband cavalierly to an intolerable degree : 'Such as no 
Englishman could stand,' the portly old informant 
thundered, describing it and her in racy vernacular. She 
might be a devil of a wife. She was a pleasant friend ; 
just the soft bit sweeter than male friends which gave the 
flavour of sex without the artful seductions. He required 
them strong to move him. 

He looked at last on the green walls of the Priory, 
scarcely supposing a fair watcher to be within; for the 
contrasting pale colours of dawn had ceased to quicken 
the brilliancy of the crescent, and summer daylight 
drowned it to fainter than a silver coin in water. It lay 
dispieced like a pulled rag. Eastward, over Surrey, stood 



DIANA'S NIGHT-WATCH 223 

the full rose of morning. The Priory clock struck four. 
When the summons of the bell had gained him admittance, 
and he heard that Mrs. Warwick had come ia the night, he 
looked back through the doorway at the rosy colour, and 
congratulated himself to thiuk that her hour of watching 
was at an end. A sleepy footman was his informant. 
Women were in my lord's dressing-room, he said. Up- 
stairs, at the death-chamber, Dacier paused. No sound 
came to him. He hiirried to his own room, paced about, 
and returned. Expecting to see no one but the dead, he 
turned the handle, and the two circles of a shaded lamp, 
on ceUiag and on table, met his gaze. 



CHAPTER XX 

Diana's night-watch in the chamber of death 

He stepped into the room, and thrilled to hear the quiet 
voice beside the bed : 'Who is it?' 

Apologies and excuses were on his tongue. The vibra- 
tion of those grave tones checked them, 

'It is you,' she said. 

She sat in shadow, her hands joined on her lap. An 
unopened book was imder the lamp. 

He spoke iu an underbreath: 'I have just come. I 
was not sure I should find you here. Pardon.' 

'There is a chair.' 

He murmured thanks and entered into the stiUness, 
observing her. 

'You have been watching. . . . You must be tired.' 

'No.' 

'An hour was asked, only one.' 

'I could not leave him.' 



224 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Watchers are at hand to relieve you.' 

'It is better for him to have me.' 

The chord of her voice told him of the gulf she had 
sunk in during the night. The thought of her endurance 
became a burden. 

He let fall his breath for patience, and tapped the floor 
with his foot. 

He feared to discompose her by speaking. The silence 
grew more fearful, as the very speech of Death between 
them. 

'You came. I thought it right to let you know in- 
stantly. I hoped you would come to-morrow.' 

'I could not delay.' 

' You have been sitting alone here since eleven !' 

'I have not found it long.' 

'You must want some refreshment . . • tea?' 

'I need nothing.' 

' It can be made ready in a few minutes.' 

'I could not eat or drink.' 

He tried to brush away the impression of the tomb in 
the heavily-curtained chamber by thinking of the summer- 
morn outside; he spoke of it, the rosy sky, the dewy 
grass, the piping birds. She listened, as one hearing of 
a quitted sphere. 

Their breathing in common was just heard if either drew 
a deeper breath. At moments his eyes wandered and 
shut. Alternately in his mind Death had vaster meanings 
and doubtfuller; Life cowered under the shadow or out- 
shone it. He glanced from her to the figure in the bed, 
and she seemed swallowed. 

He said: 'It is time for you to have rest. You know 
your room. I will stay till the servants are up.' 

She replied : ' No, let this night with him be mine.' 

' I am not intruding . . . ? ' 

'If you wish to remain . . .' 



DIANA'S NIGHT-WATCH 225 

No traces of weeping were on her face. The lamp- 
shade revealed it colourless, and lustreless her eyes. She 
was robed in black. She held her hands clasped. 

'You have not suffered?' 

'Oh, no.' 

She said it without sighing : nor was her speech mourn- 
ful, only brief. 

'You have seen death before?' 

'I sat by my father four nights. I was a girl then. 
I cried till I had no more tears.' 

He felt a burning pressure behind his eyeballs. 

'Death is natural,' he said. 

'It is natural to the aged. When they die honoured . . . 
She looked where the dead man lay. 'To sit beside 
the young, cut off from their dear opening life . . . !' 
A little shudder swept over her. 'Oh ! that !' 

'You were very good to come. We must all thank 
you for fulfilling his wish.' 

'He knew it would be my wish.' 

Her hands pressed together. 

'He lies peacefully !' 

'I have raised the lamp on him, and wondered each 
time. So changeless he lies. But so like a sleep that will 
wake. We never see peace but in the features of the 
dead. Will you look? They are beautiful. They have 
a heavenly sweetness.' 

The desire to look was evidently recurrent with her. 
Dacier rose. 

Their eyes fell together on the dead man, as thought- 
fully as Death allows to the creatures of sensation. 

'And after?' he said in low tones. 

'I trust to my Maker,' she replied. 'Do you see a 
change since he breathed his last?' 

'Not any.'. 

'You were with him?' 



226 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Not in the room. Two minutes later.' 

'Who . . .?' 

'My father. His niece, Lady Cathaim.' 

'If our lives are lengthened we outlive most of those we 
would have to close our eyes. He had a dear sister.' 

'She died some years back.' 

'I helped to comfort him for that loss.' 

'He told me you did.' 

The lamp was replaced on the table. 

' For a moment, when I withdraw the light from him, I 
feel sadness. As if the light we lend to anything were of 
value to him now I' 

She bowed her head deeply. Dacier left her meditation 
undisturbed. The birds on the walls outside were audible, 
tweeting, chirping. 

He went to the window-curtains and tried the shutter- 
bars. It seemed to him that daylight would be cheer- 
fuller for her. He had a thirst to behold her standing 
bathed in daylight. 

'Shall I open them?' he asked her. 

'I would rather the lamp,' she said. 

They sat silently until she drew her watch from her 
girdle. ' My train starts at half-past six. It is a walk of 
thirty-five minutes to the station. I did it last night in 
that time.' 

'You walked here in the dark alone?' 

'There was ao fly to be had. The station-master sent 
one of his porters with me. We had a talk on the road. 
I like those men.' 

Dacier read the hour by the mantelpiece clock. 'J£ 
you must really go by the early train, I will drive you.* 

'No, I will walk; I prefer it.' 

'I will order your breakfast at once.' 

He turned on his heel. She stopped him. . ' No, I have 
no taste for eating or drinking.' 



DIANA'S NIGHT-WATCH 227 

'Pray . . .' said he, in visible distress. 

She shook her head. 'I could not. I have twenty 
minutes longer. I can find my way to the station ; it is 
almost a straight road out of the park-gates.* 

His heart swelled with anger at the household for the 
treatment she had been subjected to, judging by her 
resolve not to break bread in the house. 

They resumed their silent sitting. The intervals for a 
word to pass between them were long, and the ticking of 
the time-piece fronting the death-bed ruled the chamber, 
scarcely varied. 

The lamp was raised for the final look, the leave- 
taking. 

Dacier buried his face, thinking many things — the 
common multitude in insurrection. 

'A servant should be told to come now,' she said- *I 
have only to put on my bonnet and I am ready.' 

'You will take no . . . ?' 

'Nothing.' 

'It is not too late for a carriage to be ordered.' 

•No— the walk!' 

They separated. 

He roused the two women in the dressing-room, asleep 
with heads against the wall. Thence he sped to his own 
room for hat and overcoat, and a sprinkle of cold water. 
Descending the stairs, he beheld his companion issuing 
from the chamber of death. Her lips were shut, her eye- 
lids nervously tremulous. 

They were soon in the warm sweet open air, and they 
walked without an interchange of a syllable through the 
park into the white hawthorn lane, glad to breathe. Her 
nostrils took long draughts of air, but of the change of 
scene she appeared scarcely sensible. 

At the park-gates, she said : 'There is no necessity for 
your coming.' 



228 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

His answer was : ' I think of myself. I gain some- 
thing every step I walk with you.' 

'To-day is Thursday,' said she. 'The funeral is . . .?' 

'Monday has been fixed. According to his directions, 
he will lie in the churchyard of his village — not in the 
family vault.' 

'I know,' she said hastily. 'They are privileged who 
follow him and see the coffin lowered. He spoke of this 
quiet little resting-place.' 

'Yes, it 's a good end. I do not wonder at his 
wish for the honour you have done him. I could wish 
it too. But more living than dead — that is a natural 
wish.' 

'It is not to be called an honour.' 

'I should feel it so — an honour to me.' 

' It is a friend's duty. The word is too harsh ; — ^it was 
his friend's desire. He did not ask it so much as he sanc- 
tioned it. For to him what has my sitting beside him 
been !' 

'He had the prospective happiness.' 

'He knew well that my soul would be with him— as it 
was last night. But he knew it would be my poor human 
happiness to see him with my eyes, touch him with my 
hand, before he passed from our sight.' 

Dacier exclaimed: 'How you can love!' 

'Is the village church to be seen?' she asked. 

'To the right of those elms; that is the spire. The 
black spot below is a yew. You love with the whole heart 
when you love.' 

'I love my friends,' she replied. 

'You tempt me to envy those who are numbered 
among them.' 

'They are not many.' 

'They should be grateful.' 

'You have some acquaintance with them all.' 



DIANA'S NIGHT-WATCH 229 

'And an enemy? Had you ever one? Do you know 
of one?' 

'Direct and personal designedly? I think not. We 
give that title to those who are disincliried to us and add 
a dash of darker colour to our errors. Foxes have enemies 
in the dogs ; heroines of melodramas have their persecut- 
ing villains. I suppose that conditions of life exist where 
one meets the original complexities. The bad are in every 
rank. The inveterately malignant I have not found. 
Circumstances may combine to make a whisper as deadly 
as a blow, though not of such evU design. Perhaps if we 
lived at a Coxiit of a magnificent despot we should learn 
that we are less highly civilized than we imagine ourselves ; 
but that is a fire to the passions, and the extreme is not 
the perfect test. Our civilization counts positive gains — 
unless you take the melodrama for the truer picture of us. 
It is always the most popular with the English. — ^And 
look, what a month June is ! Yesterday morning I was 
with Lady Dunstane on her heights, and I feel double the 
age. He was fond of this wild country. We think it a 
desert, a blank, whither he has gone, because we wiU strain 
to see in the utter dark, and nothing can come of that but 
the bursting of the eyeballs.' 

Dacier assented : 'There 's no use in peering beyond the 
limits.' 

'No,' said she; 'the effect is like the explaLoing of 
things to a duU head — the finishing stroke to the under- 
standing! Better continue to brood. We get to some 
unravelment if we are left to our own efforts. I quarrel 
with no priest of any denomination. That they should 
quarrel among themselves is comprehensible in their 
wisdom, for each has the specific. But they show us 
their way of solving the great problem, and we ought to 
thank them, though one or the other abominate us. You 
are advised to talk with Lady Dunstane on these themes. 



230 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

She is perpetually in the antechamber of death, and her 
soul is perennially sunshine. — See the pretty cottage under 
the laburnum curls ! Who lives there ? ' 
'His gamekeeper, Simon Rofe.' 

'And what a playground for the children, that bit of 
common by their garden-palings ! and the pond, and the 
blue hills over the furzes. I hope those people wUl not 
be turned out.' 

Dacier could not tell. He promised to do his best for 
them. 
'But,' said she, 'you are the lord here now.' 
'Not likely to be the tenant. Incomes are wanted to 
support even small estates.' 

'The reason is good for courting the income.' 
He disliked the remark ; and when she said presently : 
'Those windmills make the landscape homely,' he re- 
joined: 'They remind one of our wheeling London 
gamins round the cab from the station.' 

'They remind you,' said she, and smiled at the chance 
discordant trick he had, remembering occasions when it 
had crossed her. 

'This is homelier than Rovio,' she said; 'quite as nice 
in its way.' 

'You do not gather flowers here.' 
'Because my friend has these at her feet.' 
'May one petition without a rival, then, for a souvenir?' 
' Certainly, if you care to have a common buttercup.' 
They reached the station, five minutes in advance of the 
train. His coming manoeuvre was early detected, and she 
drew from her pocket the little book he had seen lying un- 
opened on the table, and said: 'I shall have two good 
hours for reading.' 

'You will not object? ... I must accompany you to 
town. Permit it, I beg. You shall not be worried to 
talk.' 



DIANA'S NIGHT-WATCH 231 

'No; I came alone and return alone.' 

'Fasting and unprotected! Are you determined to 
take away the worst impression of us? Do not refuse 
me this favour.' 

'As to fasting, I could not eat: and unprotected no 
woman is in England if she is a third-class traveller. That 
is my experience of the class ; and I shall return among 
my natural protectors — the most imselfishly chivalrous to 
women in the whole world.' 

He had set his heart on going with her, and he attempted 
eloquence in pleading, but that exposed him to her 
humour; he was tripped. 

'It is not denied that you belong to the knightly class,' 
she said; 'and it is not necessary that you should wear 
armour and plumes to proclaim it ; and your appearance 
would be ample protection from the drunken sailors 
travelling, you say, on this line ; and I may be deplorably 
mistaken in imagining that I could tame them. But 
your knightliness is due elsewhere; and I commit my- 
self to the fortune of war. It is a battle for women every- 
where ; under the most favourable conditions among my 
dear common English. I have not my maid with me, or 
else I should not dare.' 

She paid for a third-class ticket, amused by Dacier's 
look of entreaty and trouble. 

'Of course I obey,' he murmured. 

'I have the habit of exacting it in matters concerning 
my independence,' she said ; and it arrested some rum- 
bling notions in his head as to a piece of audacity on the 
starting of the train. They walked up and down the 
platform till the bell rang and the train came rounding 
beneath an arch. 

'Oh, by the way, may I ask?' — ^he said: 'was it your 
article in Whitmonby's journal on a speech of mine last 
week?' 



232 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'The guilty writer is confessed.' 

'Let me thank you.' 

' Don't. But try to believe it' written on public grounds 
— ^if the task is not too great.' 

'I may call?' 

'You will be welcome.' 

'To tell you of the funeral — ^the last of him !' 

'Do not fail to come.' 

She could have laughed to see him jumping on the 
steps of the third-class carriages one after another to 
choose her company for her. In those pre-democratic 
blissful days before the miry Deluge, the opinion of the 
requirements of poor English travellers entertained by 
the Seigneur Directors of the class above them, was that 
they differed from cattle in stipulating for seats. With 
the exception of that provision to suit their weakness, 
the accommodation extended to them resembled pens, 
and the seats were emphatically seats of penitence, in- 
tended to grind the sitter for his mean pittance payment 
and absence of aspiration to a higher state. Hard 
angular wood, a low roof, a shabby square of window 
aloof, demanding of him to quit the seat he insisted on 
having, if he would indulge in views of the passing scenery, 
— such was the furniture of dens where a refinement of 
castigation was practised on villain poverty by denying 
leathers to the windows, or else buttons to the leathers, 
so that the windows had either to be up or down, but 
refused to shelter and freshen simultaneously. 

Dacier selected a compartment occupied by two old 
women, a mother and babe and little maid, and a labour- 
ing man. There he installed her, with an eager look that 
she would not notice. 

' You will want the window down,' he said. 

She applied to her fellow-travellers for the permission ; 
and struggling to get the window down, he was irritated 



'THE YOUNG MINISTER OF STATE' 233 

to animadvert on 'these carriages' of the benevolent 
railway Company. 

'Do not forget that the wealthy are well treated, or 
you may be unjust,' said she, to pacify him. 

His mouth sharpened its line whUe he tried arts and 
energies on the refractory window. She told him to leave 
it. 'You can't breathe this atmosphere!' he cried, and 
called to a porter, who did the work, remarking that it was 
rather stiff. 

The door was banged and fastened. Dacier had to 
hang on the step to see her in the farewell. From the 
platform he saw the top of her bonnet; and why she 
should have been guilty of this freak of riding in an un- 
wholesome carriage, tasked his power of guessing. He 
was too English even to have taken the explanation, for 
he detested the distinguishing of the races in his country, 
and could not therefore have comprehended her pec^iliar 
tenacity of the sense of injury as long as enthusiasm did 
not arise to obliterate it. He required a course of lessons 
in Irish. 

Sauntering down the lane, he called at Simon Rofe's 
cottage, and spoke very kindly to the gamekeeper's wife. 
That might please Diana. It was all he could do at 
present. 



CHAPTER XXI 

'the toung ministek of state' 

Descbiptions in the newspapers of the rural funeral of 
Lord Dannisburgh had the effect of rousing flights of 
tattlers with a twittering of the disused name of Warwick ; 
our social Gods renewed their combat, and the verdict 
of the jury was again overhauled, to be attacked and 



234 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

maintained, the carpers replying to the champions that they 
held to their view of it ; as heads of bull-dogs are expected 
"to do when they have got a grip of one. It is a point of 
muscular honour with them never to relax their hold. 
They will tell you why : — they formed that opinion from 
the first. And but for the swearing of a particular 
witness, upon whom the plaintiff had been taught to rely, 
the verdict would have been different — to prove their 
soundness of judgement. They could speak from private 
positive information of certain damnatory circumstances, 
derived from authentic sources. Visits of a gentleman 
to the house of a married lady in the absence of the 
husband ? Oh ! — ^The British Lucretia was very properly 
not legally at home to the masculine world of that day. 
She plied her distaff in pure seclusion, meditating on her 
absent lord; or else a fair proportion of the masculine 
world, which had not yet, has not yet, 'doubled Cape 
Turk,' approved her condemnation to the sack. 

There was talk in the feminine world, at Lady Wathin's 
assemblies. The elevation of her husband had extended 
and deepened her influence on the levels where it reigned 
before, but without, strange as we may think it now, 
assisting to her own elevation, much aspired for, to the 
smooth and lively upper pavement of Society, above its 
tumbled strata. She was near that distinguished surface, 
not on it. Her circle was practically the same as it was 
previous to the coveted nominal rank enabling her to 
trample on those beneath it. And women like that Mrs. 
Warwick, a woman of no birth, no money, not even honest 
character, enjoyed the entry undisputed, circulated among 
the highest : — because people took her rattle for wit ! 
— and because also our nobility. Lady Wathin feared, 
had no due regard for morality. Our aristocracy, 
brilliant and ancient though it was, merited rebuke. 
She grew severe upon aristocratic scandals, whereof were 



'THE YOUNG MINISTER OF STATE' 235 

plenty among the frolicsome host just overhead, as vexa- 
tious as the drawing-room party to the lodger in the floor 
below, who has not received an invitation to partake of 
the festivities, and is required to digest the noise. But 
if ambition is oversensitive, moral indignation is ever 
consolatory, for it plants us on the Judgement Seat. 
Tfiere indeed we may, sitting with the very Highest, 
forget our personal disappointments in dispensing rep- 
robation for misconduct, however eminent the offenders. 
She was Lady Wathin, and once on an afternoon's" call 
to see poor Lady Dunstane at her town-house, she had 
been introduced to Lady Pennon, a patroness of Mrs. 
Warwick, and had met a snub — an icy check-bow of the 
aristocratic head from the top of the spinal column, and 
not a word, not a look ; — the half-turn of a head devoid of 
mouth and eyes ! She practised that forbidding check- 
bow herself to perfection, so the endurance of it was 
horrible. A noli me tangere, her husband termed it, in 
his ridiculous equanimity ; and he might term it what he 
pleased — ^it was insulting. The solace she had was in 
hearing that hideous Radical Revolutionary things were 
openly spoken at Mrs. Warwick's evenings with her 
frienck: — ^impudently named 'the elect of London.' 
Pleasing to reflect upon Mrs. Warwick as undermining 
her supporters, to bring them some day down with a 
crash! Her 'elect of London' were a queer gathering, 
by report of them ! And Mr. Whitmonby too, no doubt 
a celebrity, was the right-hand man at these dinner-parties 
of Mrs. Warwick. Where will not men go to be flattered 
by a pretty woman ! He had declined repeated, succes- 
sive invitations to Lady Wathin's table. But there of 
course he would not have had 'the freedom' : that is, 
she rejoiced in thinking defensively and offensively, a 
moral wall enclosed her topics. The Hon. Percy Dacier 
^ad been brought to her Thursday afternoon by Mr. 



236 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Quintin Manx, and he had one day dined with her ; and 
he knew Mrs. Warwick — a little, he said. The oppor- 
tunity was not lost to convey to him, entirely in the 
interest of sweet Constance Asper, that the moral world 
entertained a settled view of the very clever woman Mrs. 
Warwick certainly was. — He had asked Diana, on their 
morning walk to the station, whether she had an enemy : 
so prone are men, educated by the Drama and Fiction 
in the belief that the garden of civilized life must be at 
the mercy of the old wild devourers, to fancy 'villain 
whispers' an indication of direct animosity. Lady 
Wathin had no sentiment of the kind. 

But she had become acquainted with the other side of 
the famous Dannisburgh case — the unfortunate plaintiff; 
and compassion as well as morality moved her to put on a 
speaking air when Mr. Warwick's name was mentioned. 
She pictured him to the ladies of her circle as ' one of our 
true gentlemen in his deportment and his feelings.' He 
was, she would venture to say, her ideal of an English 
gentleman. 'But now,' she added commiseratingly, 
'ruined; ruined in his health and in his prospects.' A 
lady inquired if it was the verdict that had thus affected 
him. Lady Wathin's answer was reported over moral, 
or substratum, London: 'He is the victim of a fatal 
passion for his wife ; and would take her back to-morrow 
were she to solicit his forgiveness.' Morality had some- 
thing to say against this active marital charity, attribut- 
able, it was to be feared, to weakness of character on the 
part of the husband. Still Mrs. Warwick undoubtedly 
was one of those women (of Satanic construction) who 
have the art of enslaving the men unhappy enough to 
cross their path. The nature of the art was hinted, with 
the delicacy of dainty feet which have to tread in mire 
to get to safety. Men, alas ! are snared in this way. 
Instances too numerous for the good repute of the swinish 



'THE YOUNG MINISTER OF STATE' 237 

sex, were cited, and the question of how Morality was 
defensible from their grossness passed without a tactical 
reply. There is no defence. Those women come like 
the Cholera Morbus — and owing to similar causes. They 
will prevail until the ideas of men regarding women are 
purified. Nevertheless the husband who could forgive, 
even propose to forgive, was deemed by consent generous, 
however weak. Though she might not have been wholly 
guilty, she had bitterly offended. And he despatched 
an emissary to her? — ^The theme, one may, in their 
language, 'fear,' was relished as a sugared acid. It was 
renewed in the late Autunm of the year, when Antonia 
published her new book, entitled The Young Minister 
OF State. The signature of the authoress was now 
known ; and from this resurgence of her name in public, 
suddenly a radiation of tongues from the circle of Lady 
Wathin declared that the repentant Mrs. Warwick had 
gone back to her husband's bosom and forgiveness ! 
The r.umour spread in spite of sturdy denials at odd 
comers, counting the red-hot proposal of Mr. Siillivan 
Smith to eat his head and boots for breakfast if it was 
proved correct. It filled a yawn of the Clubs for the 
afternoon. Soon this wanton rumour was met and 
stifled by another of more morbific density, heavily 
charged as that which led the sad Eliza to her pyre. 

Antonia's hero was easily identified. The Young 
Minister of State could be he only who was now at all 
her parties, always meeting her ; had been spied walking 
with her daily in the park near her house, on his march 
down to Westminster during the session; and who 
positively went to concerts and sat under fiddlers to be 
near her. It accounted moreover for his treatment of 
Constance Asper. What effrontery of the authoress, to 
placard herself with him in a book ! The likeness of the 
hero to Percy Dacier once established became striking to 



238 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

glaringness — a proof of her ability, and more of her 
audacity ; still more of her intention to flatter him up to 
his perdition. By the things written of him, one would 
imagine the conversations going on behind the scenes. 
She had the wiles of a Cleopatra, not without some of the 
Nilene's experiences. A youthful Antony-Dacier would 
be little likely to escape her toils. And so promising a. 
young man! The sigh, the tear for weeping over his 
destruction, almost fell, such vivid realizing of the 
prophesy appeared in its pathetic pronouncement. 

This low rumour, or malaria, began blowing in the 
winter, and did not travel fast; for strangely, there was. 
hardly a breath of it in the atmosphere of Dacier, none in 
Diana's. It rose from groups not so rapidly and largely 
mixing, and less quick to kindle ; whose crazy sincereness 
battened on the smallest morsel of fact and collected the 
fictitious by slow absorption. But as guardians of 
morality, often doing good duty in their office, they are 
persistent. When Parliament assembled, Mr. Quintin 
Manx, a punctual member of the House, if nothing else, 
arrived in town. He was invited to dine with Lady 
Wathin. After dinner she spoke to him of the absent 
Constance, and heard of her being well, and expressed a 
great rejoicing at that. Whereupon the burly old ship- 
owner frowned and puffed. Constance, he said, had 
plunged into these new spangle, candle and high singing 
services; was all for symbols, harps, effigies, what not. 
Lady Wathin's countenance froze in hearing of it. She 
led Mr. Quintin to a wall-sofa, and said : ' Surely the dear 
child must have had a disappointment, for her to have 
taken to those foolish displays of religion ! It is gener- 
ally a sign.' 

'Well, ma'am — my lady — I let girls go their ways in 
such things. I don't interfere. But it 's that fellow, or 
nobody, with her. She has fixed her girl's mind on him,. 



'THE YOUNG MINISTER OF STATE' 23& 

and if she can't columbine as a bride, she will as a nun. 
Young people must be at some harlequinade.' 

' But it is very shocking. And he?' 

' He plays fast and loose, warm and cold. I 'm ready 
to settle twenty times a nobleman's dowry on my niece : 
and she 's a fine girl, a handsome girl, educated up to the 
brim, fit to queen it in any drawing-room. He holds her 
by some arts that don't hold him, it seems. He 's all for 
pohtics.' 

'Constance can scarcely be his dupe so far, I should 
think.' 

'How do you mean?' 

' Everything points to one secret of his conduct.' 

'A woman?' 

Lady Wathin's head shook for her sex's pained affirma- 
tive. 

Mr. Quintin in the same fashion signified the downright, 
negative. ' The fellow 's as cold as a fish.' 

' Flattery will do anything. There is, I fear, one.' 

'Widow? wife? maid?' 

'Married, I regret to say.' 

'Well, if he 'd get over with it,' said Quintin, in whose 
notions the seductiveness of a married woman could be 
only temporary, for all the reasons pertaining to her state. 
At the same time his view of Percy Dacier was changed in 
thinking it possible that a woman could divert him from 
his political and social interests. He looked incredulous. 

'You have heard of a Mrs. Warwick?' said Lady 
Wathin. 

' Warwick ! I have. I 've never seen her. At my 
broker's in the City yesterday I saw the name on a 
Memorandum of purchase of Shares in a concern promis- 
ing ten per cent., and not likely to carry the per annum 
into the plural. He told me she was a grand kind of 
woman, past advising.' 



240 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'For what amount?' 

'Some thousands, I think it was.' 

'She has no money' : Lady Wathin corrected her 
emphasis : ' or ought to have none.' 

' She can't have got it from him.' 

'Did you notice her Christian name?' 

'I don't recollect it, if I did. I thought the woman a 
donkey.' 

'Would you consider me a busybody were I to try to 
mitigate this woman's evil influence? I love dear Con- 
stance, and should be happy to serve her.' 

'I want my girl married,' said old Quintin. 'He's 
one of my Parliamentary chiefs, with first-rate prospects ; 
good family, good sober fellow — at least I thought so ; by 
nature, I mean ; barring your incantations. He suits me, 
she liking him.' 

'She admires him, I am sure.' 

'She 's dead on end for the fellow !' 

Lady Wathin felt herself empowered by Quintin Manx 
to undertake the release of sweet Constance Asper's knight 
from the toils of his enchantress. For this purpose she 
had first an interview with Mr. Warwick, and next she 
hurried to Lady Dunstane at Copsley. There, after 
jumbling Mr. Warwick's connubial dispositions and Mrs. 
Warwick's last book, and Mr. Percy Dacier's engagement 
to the great heiress in a gossipy hotch-potch, she con- 
trived to gather a few items of fact, as that The Young 
Minister was probably modelled upon Mr. Percy Dacier. 
Lady Dunstane made no concealment of it as soon as she 
grew sensible of the angling. But she refused her help 
to any reconciliation between Mr. and Mrs. Warwick. 
She declined to listen to Lady Wathin's entreaties. She 
declined to give her reasons. — ^These bookworm women, 
whose pride it is to fancy that they can think for them- 
selves, have a great deal of the heathen in them, as 



'THE YOUNG MINISTER OF STATE' 241 

morality discovers when it wears the enlistment ribands 
and applies to them to win recruits for a service under 
the direct blessing of Providence. 

Lady Wathin left some darts behind her, in the form of 
moral exclamations; and really intended morally. For 
though she did not like Mrs. Warwick, she had no wish 
to wound, other than by stopping her further studies of 
the Young Minister, and conducting him to the young 
lady loving him, besides restoring a bereft husband to 
his own. How sadly pale and worn poor Mr. Warwick 
appeared ! The portrayal of his withered visage to 
Lady Dunstane had quite failed to gain a show of sym- 
pathy. And so it is ever with your book-worm women 
pretending to be philosophical ! You sound them vainly 
for a manifestation of the commonest human sensibilities^ 
They turn over the leaves of a Latia book on their laps 
wMle you are supplicating them to assist in a work of 
charity ! 

Lady Wathin's iuterjectory notes haimted Emma's 
ear. Yet she had seen nothing in Tony to let her suppose 
that there was trouble of her heart below the surface; 
and her Tony when she came to Copsley shone in the mood 
of the day of Lord Dannisburgh's drive down from 
London with her. She was nmning on a fresh work; 
talked of composition as a trifle. 

'I suppose the Young Minister is Mr. Percy Dacier?' 
said Emma. 

'Between ourselves he is,' Diana replied, smiling at a 
secret guessed. 'You know my model and can judge of 
the likeness.' 

' You write admiringly of him, Tony.' 

'And I do admire him. So would you, Emmy, if you 
knew him as well as I do now. He pairs with Mr. Red- 
worth ; he also is the friend of women. But he lifts us to 
rather a higher level of intellectual friendship. When the 



242 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

ice has melted — and it is thick at first — ^he pours forth 
all his ideas without reserve; and they are deep and 
noble. Ever since Lord Dannisburgh's death and our 
sitting together, we have been warm friends — ^intimate, 
I would say, if it could be said of one so self-contained. 
In. that respect, no young man was ever comparable with 
him. And I am encouraged to flatter myself that he im- 
bends to me more than to others.' 

'He is engaged, or partly, I hear; why does he not 
marry ? ' 

'I wish he would!' Diana said, with a most brilliant 
candour of aspect. 

Emma read in it, that it would complete her happiness, 
possibly by fortifjdng her sense of security; and that 
seemed right. Her own meditations, illumined by the 
beautiful face in her presence, referred to the security of 
Mr. Dacier. 

' So, then, life is going smoothly,' said Emma. 

'Yes, af^a good pace and smoothly: not a torrent — 
Thames-like, "without o'erflowing full." It is not 
Lugano and the Salvatore. Perhaps it is better: as 
action is better than musing.' 

'No troubles whatever?' 

'None. Well, except an "adorer" at times. I have 
to take him as my portion. An impassioned Caledonian 
has a little bothered me. I met him at Lady Pennon's, 
and have been meeting him, as soon as I put foot out of 
my house, ever since. If I could impress and impound 
him to marry Mary Paynham, I should be glad. By the 
way, I have consented to let her try at a portrait of me. 
No, I have no troubles. I have friends, the choicest of 
the nation ; I have health, a field for labour, fairish suc- 
cess with it ; a mind alive, such as it is. I feel like that 
midsummer morning of our last drive out together, the 
sun high, clearish, clouded enough to be cool. And stiU 



'THE YOUNG MINISTER OF STATE' 243 

I envy Emmy on her sofa, mastering Latin, biting at 
Greek. What a wise recommendation that was of Mr. 
Redworth's ! He works well in the House. He spoke 
excellently the other night.' 

'He runs over to Ireland this Easter.* 

'He sees for himself, and speaks with authority. He 
sees and feels. Englishmen mean well, but they require 
an extremity of misery to waken their feelings.' 

'It is coming, he says ; and absit omen !' 

'Mr. Dacier says he is the one Englishman who may 
always be sure of an Irish hearing ; and he does not cajole 
them, you know. But the English defect is really not 
want of feeling so much as want of foresight. They will 
not look ahead. A famine ceasing, a rebellion crushed, 
they jog on as before, with their Dobbin trot and blinker 
confidence in "Saxon energy." They should study the 
Irish. I think it was Mr. Redworth who compared the 
governing of the Irish to the management of a horse : the 
rider should not grow restive when the steed begins to 
kick: calmer; firm, calm, persuasive.' 

'Does Mr. Dacier agree?' 

'Not always. He has the inveterate national belief 
that Celtic blood is childish, and the consequently illogical 
disregard of its hold of impressions. The Irish — for I 
have them in my heart, though I have not been among 
them for long at a time — must love you to serve you, and 
will hate you if you have done them injury and they have 
not wiped it out — they with a treble revenge, or you with 
cordial benefits. I have told him so again and again: 
ventured to suggest measures.' 

'He listens to you, Tony?' 

' He says I have brains. It ends in a compliment.' 

'You have inspired Mr. Redworth.' 

' If I have, I have lived for some good.' 
• Altogether her Tony's conversation proved to Emma 



244 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

that her perusal of the model of The Young Minister of 
State was an artist's, free, open, and not discoloured by 
the personal tincture. Her heart plainly was free and 
undisturbed. She had the same girl's love of her walks 
where wildflowers grew; if possible, a keener pleasure. 
She hummed of her happiness in being at Copsley, singing 
her Planxty Kelly and The Puritani by turns. She stood 
on land: she was not on the seas. Emma thought so 
with good reason. 

She stood on land, it was true, but she stood on a cliff 
of the land, the seas below and about her; and she was 
enabled to hoodwink her friend because the assured sen- 
sation of her firm footing deceived her own soul, even 
while it took short flights to the troubled waters. Of her 
firm footing she was exultingly proud. She stood high, 
close to danger, without giddiness. If at intervals her 
soul flew out like lightning from the rift (a mere shot of 
involuntary fancy, it seemed to her), the suspicion of in- 
stability made her draw on her treasury of impressions of 
the mornings at Lugano — ^her loftiest, purest, dearest; 
and these reinforced her. She did not ask herself why 
she should have to seek them for aid. In other respects 
her mind was alert and held no sly covers, as the fiction 
of a perfect ignorant innocence combined with common 
intelligence would have us to suppose that the minds of 
women can do. She was honest as long as she was not 
directly questioned, pierced to the innermost and sanctum 
of the bosom. She could honestly summon bright light 
to her eyes in wishing the man were married. She did 
not ask herself why she called it up. The remorseless 
progressive interrogations of a Jesuit Father in pursuit 
of the bosom's verity might have transfixed it and shown 
her to herself even then a tossing vessel as to the spirit, 
far away from that firm land she trod so bravely. 

Descending from the woody heights upon London, 



'THE YOUNG MINISTER OF STATE' 245 

Diana would have said that her only anxiety concerned 
young Mr. Arthur Rhodes, whose position she considered 
precarious, and who had recently taken a drubbing for 
venturing to show a peep of his head, like an early crocus, 
in the literary market. Her Antonia's last book had been 
reviewed obediently to smart taps from the then com- 
manding b&ton of Mr. Tonans, and Mr. Whitmonby's 
choice picking of specimens down three columns of his 
paper. A Literary Review (Charles Rainer's property) 
had suggested that perhaps ' the talented authoress might 
be writing too rapidly' ; and another, actuated by the 
public taste of the period for our 'vigorous homely Saxon' 
in one and two syllable words, had complained of a ' tend- 
ency to polysyllabic phraseology.' The remainder, a 
full majority, had sounded eulogy with all their band- 
instruments, drum, trumpet, fife, trombone. Her fore- 
going work had raised her to Fame, which is the Court 
of a Queen when the lady has beauty and social influence, 
and critics are her dedicated courtiers, gaping for the 
royal mouth to be opened, and reserving the kicks of 
their independent manhood for infamous outsiders, whom 
they hoist in the style and particular service of pitch- 
forks. They had fallen upon a little volume of verse, 
'like a body of barn-door hens on a stranger chick,' 
Diana complained ; and she chid herself angrily for letting 
it escape her forethought to propitiate them on the 
author's behalf. Young Rhodes was left with scarce a 
feather; and what remained to him appeared a prepos- 
terous ornament for the decoration of a shivering and 
welted poet. He laughed, or tried the mouth of laughter. 
Antonia's literary conscience was vexed at the different 
treatment she had met and so imperatively needed that 
the reverse of it would have threatened the smooth 
sailing of her costly household. A merry-go-round of 
creditors required a corresponding whirligig of receipts. 



246 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

She felt mercenary, debased by comparison with the well- 
scourged verse-mason, Orpheus of the untenanted city, 
who had done his publishing ingenuously for glory: a 
good instance of the comic-pathetic. She wrote to Emma, 
begging her to take him in at Copsley for a few days : — 
'I told you I had no troubles. I am really troubled about 
this poor boy. He has very little money and has em- 
barked on literature. I cannot induce any of my friends 
to lend him a hand. Mr. .Redworth gruflBy insists on his 
going back to his law-clerk's office and stool, and Mr, 
Dacier says that no place is vacant. The reality of Lord 
Dannisburgh's death is brought before me by my help- 
lessness. He would have made him an assistant private 
Secretary, pending a Government appointment, rather 
than let me plead in vain.' 

Mr. Rhodes with his travelling bag was packed off to 
Copsley, to enjoy a change of scene after his run of the 
gauntlet. He was very heartily welcomed by Lady 
Dunstane, both for her Tony's sake and his own modest 
worship of that luminary, which could permit of being 
transparent ; but chiefly she welcomed him as the living 
proof of Tony's disengagement from anxiety, since he was 
her one spot of trouble, and could easily be comforted by 
reading with her, and wandering through the Spring 
woods along the heights. He had a happy time, midway 
in air between his accomplished hostess and his protect- 
ing Goddess. His bruises were soon healed. Each day 
was radiant to him, whether it rained or shone ; and by 
his looks and what he said of himself Lady Dunstane 
understood that he was in the highest temper of the 
human creature txmed to thrilling accord with nature. It 
was her generous Tony's work. She blessed it, and liked 
the youth the better. 

During the stay of Mr. Arthur Rhodes at Copsley, Sir 
Lukin came on a visit to his wife. He mentioned reports 



BETWEEN DIANA AND DACIER 247 

in the scandal-papers ; one, that Mr. P. D. would shortly 
lead to the altar the lovely heiress Miss A., Percy Dacier 
and Constance Asper : — another, that a reconciliation was 
to be expected between the beautiful authoress Mrs. W. 
and her husband. 'Perhaps it 's the best thing she can 
do,' Sir Lukin added. 

Lady Dunstane pronounced a woman's unforgiving: 
'Never.' The revolt of her own sensations assured her 
of Tony's unconquerable repugnance. In conversation 
subsequently with Arthur Rhodes, she heard that he knew 
the son of Mr. Warwick's attorney, a Mr. Fenn ; and he 
had gathered from him some information of Mr. Warwick's 
condition of health. It had been alarming ; young Fenn 
said it was confirmed heart-disease. His father frequently 
saw Mr. Warwick, and said he was fretting himself to 
death. 

It seemed just a possibility that Tony's natural com- 
passionateness had wrought on her to immolate herself 
and nurse to his end the man who had wrecked her life. 
Lady Dunstane waited for the news. At last she wrote, 
touching the report incidentally. There was no reply. 
The silence ensuing after such a question responded 
forcibly. 



CHAPTER XXII 

BETWEEN DIANA AND DACIER : THE WIND EAST OVER 
BLEAK LAND 

On the third day of the Easter recess Percy Dacier landed 
from the Havre steamer at Caen and drove straightway 
for the sandy coast, past fields of colza to brine-blown 
meadows of coarse grass, and then to the low dunes and 
long stretching sands of the ebb in semicircle : a desolate 



248 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

place at that season; with a dwarf fishing- village by the 
shore ; an East wind driving landward in streamers every 
object that had a scrap to fly. He made head to the inn, 
where the first person he encountered in the passage was 
Diana's maid Danvers, who relaxed from the dramatic 
exaggeration of her surprise at the sight of a real English 
gentleman in these woebegone regions, to inform him that 
her mistress might be found walking somewhere along the 
sea-shore, and had her dog to protect her. They were to 
stay here a whole week, Danvers added, for a conveyance 
of her private sentiments. Second thoughts however 
whispered to her shrewdness that his arrival could only 
be by appointment. She had been anticipating something 
of the sort for some time. 

Dacier butted against the stringing wind, that kept him 
at a rocking incline to his left for a mile. He then dis- 
cerned in what had seemed a dredger's dot on the sands, 
a lady's figure, unmistakably she, without the corrobo- 
rating testimony of Leander paw-deep in the low-tide 
water. She was out at a distance on the ebb-sands, 
hurtled, gyred, beaten to all shapes, in rolls, twists, 
volumes, like a blown banner-flag, by the pressing wind. 
A kerchief tied her bonnet under her chin. Bonnet and 
breast-ribands rattled rapidly as drummer-sticks. She 
stood near the little running ripple of the flat sea-water, 
as it hurried from a long streaked back to a tiny imitation 
of spray. When she turned to the shore she saw him ad- 
vancing, but did not recognize ; when they met she merely 
looked with wide parted lips. This was no appointment. 

'I had to see you,' Dacier said. 

She coloured to a deeper red than the rose-conjuring 
wind had whipped in her cheeks. Her quick intuition of 
the reason of his coming barred a mental evasion, and she 
had no thought of asking either him or herself what special 
urgency had brought him. 



BETWEEN DIANA AND DACIER 249 

'I have been here four days.' 

'Lady Esquart spoke of the place.' 

'Lady Esquart should not have betrayed me.' 

' She did it inadvertently, without an idea of my profit- 
ing by it.' 

Diana indicated the scene in a glance. 'Dreary 
country, do you think?' 

'Anywhere !' — said he. 

They walked up the sand-heap. The roaring Easter 
with its shrieks and whistles at her ribands was not 
favourable to speech. His 'Anywhere!' had a pene- 
trating significance, the fuller for the break that left it 
vague. 

Speech between them was commanded; he could not 
be suffered to remain. She descended upon a sheltered 
pathway nmning along a ditch, the border of pastures 
where cattle cropped, raised heads, and resumed their one 
comforting occupation. 

Diana gazed on them, smarting from the buffets of the 
wind she had met. 

'No play of their tails to-day' ; she said, as she slack- 
ened her steps. 'You left Lady Esquart well?' 

'Lady Esquart ... I think was well. I had to see 
you. I thought you would be with her in Berkshire. 
She told me of a httle sea-side place close to Caen.' 

'You had to see me?' 

'I miss you now if it 's a day !' 

'I heard a story in London . . .' 

'In London there are many stories. I heard one. Is 
there a foundation for it ? ' 

'No.' 

He breathed relieved. 'I wanted to see you once 
before ... if it was true. It would have made a change 
ID my life — a gap.' 

'You do me the honour to like my Sunday evenings?' 



250 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Beyond everything London can offer.' 

'A letter would have reached me.' 

'I should have had to wait for the answer. There is 
no truth in it?' 

Her choice was to treat the direct assailant frankly or 
imperil her defence by the ordinary feminine evolutions, 
which might be taken for inviting : poor pranks always. 

'There have been overtures,' she said. 

'Forgive me; I have scarcely the right to ask . . . 
speak of it.' 

'My friends may use their right to take an interest in 
my fortunes.' 

'I thought I might, on my way to Paris, turn aside . . . 
coming by this route.' 

'If you determined not to lose much of your time.' 

The coolness of her fencing disconcerted a gentleman 
conscious of his madness. She took instant advantage of 
any circuitous move ; she gave him no practicable point. 
He was little skilled in the arts of attack, and felt that 
she checked ^his impetuousness ; respected her for it, 
chafed at it, writhed with the fervours precipitating him 
here, and relapsed on his pleasure in seeing her face, 
hearing her voice. 

' Your happiness, I hope, is the chief thought in such a 
case,' he said. 

' I am sure you would consider it.' 

'I can't quite forget my own.' 

'You compliment an ambitious hostess.' 

Dacier glanced across the pastures, 'What was it that 
tempted you to this place?' 

'A poet would say it looks like a figure in the shroud. 
It has no features ; it has a sort of grandeur belonging to 
death. I heard of it as the place where I might be certain 
of not meeting an acquaintance.' 

'And I am the intruder.' 



BETWEEN DIANA AND DACIER 251 

'An hour or two will not give you that title.' 

'Am I to count the minutes by my watch?' 

'By the sun. We will supply you an omelette and 
piquette, and send you back sobered and friarly to Caen 
for Paris at sunset.' 

' Let the fare be Spartan. I could take my black broth 
with philosophy every day of the year under your aus- 
pices. What I should miss . . .' 

'You bring no news of the worid or the House?' 

'None. You know as much as I know. The Irish 
agitation is chronic. The Corn-law threatens to be the 
same.' 

'And your Chief — in personal colloquy?' 

'He keeps a calm front. I may tell you: — ^there is 
nothing I would not confide to you : he has let faU some 
dubious words in private. I don't know what to think 
of them.' 

'But if he should waver?' 

' It 's not wavering. It 's the opeimess of his mind.' 

'Ah ! the mind. We imagine it free. The House and 
the country are the sentient frame governing the mind of 
the politician more than his ideas. He cannot think inde- 
pendently of them : — ^nor I of my natural anatomy. You 
will test the truth of that after your omelette and piquette, 
and marvel at the quitting of your line of route for Paris. 
As soon as the mind attempts to think independently, it is 
Hke a kite with the cord cut, and performs a series of darts 
and frisks, that have the look of wildest liberty tiE you 
see it fall flat to earth. The openness of his mind is most 
honourable to him.' 

'Ominous for his party.' 

'Likely to be good for his country.' 

'That is the question.' 

'Prepare to encounter it. In politics I am with the 
.active minority on behalf of the inert but suffering 



252 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

majority. That is my rule. It leads, unless you have 
a despotism, to the conquering side. It is always the 
noblest. I won't say, listen to me ; only do believe my 
words have some weight. This is a question of bread.' 

'It involves many other questions.' 

'And how clearly those leaders put their case! They 
are admirable debaters. If I were asked to write against 
them, I should have but to quote them to confound my 
argument. I tried it once, and wasted a couple of my 
precious hours.' 

'They are cogent debaters,' Dacier assented. 'They 
make me wince now and then, without convincing me : — 
I own it to you. The confession is not agreeable, though 
it 's a small matter.' 

' One 's pride may feel a touch with the foils as keenly 
as the point of a rapier,' said Diana. 

The remark drew a sharp look of pleasure from' 
him. 

'Does the Princess Egeria propose to dismiss the indi- 
vidual she inspires, when he is growing most sensible of 
her wisdom ? ' 

'A young Minister of State should be gleaning at large 
when holiday is granted him.' 

Dacier coloured. ' May I presume on what is currently 
reported ? ' 

'Parts, parts; a bit here, a bit there,' she rejoined. 
'Authors find their models where they can, and generally 
hit on the nearest.' 

'Happy the nearest !' 

'If you run to interjections I shall cite you a sentence' 
from your latest speech in the House.' 

He asked for it, and to school him she consented to 
flatter with her recollection of his commonest words : 
'"Dealing with subjects of this nature emotionally does, 
*not advance us a calculable inch."' 



BETWEEN DIANA AND DACIER 253 

'I must have said that in relation to hard matter of 
business.' 

'It applies. There is my hostelry, and the spectral 
form of Danvers, utterly depaysee. Have you spoken to 
the poor soul? I can never discover the links of her 
attachment to my service.' 

'She knows a good mistress. — I have but a few minutes, 
if you are relentless. May I . . ., shall I ever be privi- 
leged to speak your Christian name ? ' 

' My Christian name ! It is Pagan. In one sphere I 
am. Hecate. Remember that.' 

'I am not among the people who so regard you.' 

'The time may come.' 

'Diana!' 

'Constance!' 

'I break no tie. I owe no allegiance whatever to the 
name.' 

'Keep to the formal title with me. We are Mrs. 
Warwick and Mr. Dacier. I think I am two years 
younger than you; socially therefore ten in seniority; 
and I know how this flower of friendship is nourished and 
may be withered. You see already what you have done ? 
You have cast me on the discretion of my maid. I 
suppose her trusty, but I am at her mercy, and a breath 
from her to the people beholding me as Hecate queen of 
Witches ! . . . I have a sensation of the scirocco it 
would blow.' 

' In that event, the least I can offer is my whole life.' 

'We will not conjecture the event.' 

'The best I could hope for !' 

'I see I shall have to revise the next edition of The 
Young Ministee, and make an emotional curate of him. 
Observe Danvers. The woman is wretched; and now 
she sees me coming she pretends to be using her wits in 
studying the things about her, as I have directed. She is 



254 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

a riddle. I have the idea that any morning she may 
explode ; and yet I trust her and sleep soundly. I must 
be free, though I vex the world's watchdogs.--So, Danvers, 
you are noticing how thoroughly Frenchwomen do their 
work.' 

Danvers replied with a slight mincing: 'They may, 
ma'am ; but they chatter chatter so.' 

'The result proves that it is not a waste of energy. 
They manage their fowls too.' 

'They 've no such thing as mutton, ma'am.' 

Dacier patriotically laughed. 

'She strikes the apology for wealthy and leisurely land- 
lords,' Diana said. 

Danvers remarked that the poor fed meagrely in France. 
She was not convinced of its being good for them by hear- 
ing that they could work on it sixteen hours out of the 
four and twenty. 

Mr. Percy Dacier's repast was furnished to him half an 
hour later. At sunset Diana, taking Danvers beside her, 
walked with him to the line of the country road bearing 
on Caen. The wind had simk. A large brown disk 
paused rayless on the western hills. 

'A Dacier ought to feel at home in Normandy; and 
you may have spnmg from this neighbourhood,' said she, 
simply to chat. 'Here the land is poorish, and a mile 
inland rich enough to bear repeated crops of colza, which 
tries the soU, I hear. As for beauty, those blue hUls you 
see, enfold charming valleys. I meditate an expedition 
to Harcourt before I return. An EngUsh professor of his 
native tongue at the Lyc6e at Caen told me on my way 
here that for twenty shillings a week you may live in 
royal ease round about Harcourt. So we have our bed 
and board in prospect if fortune fails us, Danvers.' 

' I would rather die in England, ma'am,' was the maid's 
reply. 



BETWEEN DIANA AND DACIER 255 

Dacier set foot on his carriage-step. He drew a 
long breath to say a short farewell, and he and Diana 
parted. 

They parted as the plainest of sincere good friends, each 
at heart respecting the other for the repression of that 
which their hearts craved ; any word of which might have 
carried them headlong, boimd together on a Mazeppa-race, 
with scandal for the hounding wolves, and social ruin for 
the rocks and torrents. 

Dacier was the thankfuller, the most admiring of the 
two; at the same time the least satisfied. He saw the 
abyss she had aided him in escaping ; and it was refresh- 
ful to look abroad after his desperate impulse. Prominent 
as he stood before the world, he could not think without a 
shudder of behaving like a yoimg frenetic of the passion. 
Those whose aim is at the leadership of the English people 
know, that however truly based the charges of hypocrisy, 
soundness of moral fibre runs throughout the country and 
is the national integrity, which may condone old sins for 
present service, but will not have present sins to flout it. 
He was in tune with the English character. The passion 
was in him nevertheless, and the stronger for a slow 
growth that confirmed its imion of the mind and heart. 
Her counsel fortified him, her suggestions opened springs ; 
her phrases were golden-lettered in his memory ; and more, 
she had worked an extraordinary change in his views of 
life and aptitude for social converse : he acknowledged it 
with genial candour. Through her he was encouraged, 
led, excited to sparkle with the witty, feel new gifts, or 
a greater breadth of nature ; and thanking her, he became 
thirstily susceptible to her dark beauty; he claimed to 
have found the key of her, and he prized it. She was not 
passionless : the blood flowed warm. Proud, chaste, she 
was nobly spirited; having an intellectual refuge from 
the besiegings of the blood; a rock-fortress. The 'wife 



256 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

no wife' appeared to him, striking the higher elements 
of the man, the commonly mascuKne also. — ^Would he 
espouse her, had he the chance ? — to-morrow ! this 
instant ! With her to back him, he would be doubled 
in manhood, doubled in brain and heart-energy. To call 
her wife, spring from her and return, a man might accept 
his fate to fight Trojan or Greek, sure of his mark on the 
enemy. 

But if, after all, this imputed Helen of a decayed Paris 
passed, submissive to the legitimate solicitor, back to her 
husband ? 

The thought shot Dacier on his legs for a look at the 
blank behind him. He vowed she had promised it should 
not be. Could it ever be, after the ruin the meanly sus- 
picious fellow had brought upon her ? — Diana voluntarily 
reunited to the treacherous cur? 

He sat, resolving sombrely that if the debate arose he 
would try what force he had to save her from such an 
ignominy, and dedicate his life to her, let the world wag 
its tongue. So the knot would be cut. 

Men imaccustomed to a knot in their system find the 
prospect of cutting it an extreme relief, even when they 
know that the cut has an edge to wound mortally as well 
as pacify. The wound was not heavy payment for the 
rapture of having so incomparable a woman his own. He 
reflected wonderingly on the husband, as he had previ- 
ously done, and came again to the conclusion that it was 
a poor creature, abjectly jealous of a wife, he could neither 
master, nor equal, nor attract. And thinking of jealousy, 
Dacier felt none ; none of individuals, only of facts : her 
marriage, her bondage. Her condemnation to perpetual 
widowhood angered him, as at an unrighteous decree. 
The sharp sweet bloom of her beauty, fresh in swarthi- 
ness, under the whipping Easter, cried out against that 
loathed inhumanity. Or he made it cry. 



BETWEEN DIANA AND DACIER 257 

Being a stranger to the jealousy of men, he took the soft 
assurance that he was preferred above them all. Com- 
petitors were numerous : not any won her eyes as he did. 
She revealed nothing of the same pleasures in the shining 
of the others touched by her magical wand. Would she 
have pardoned one of them the 'Diana!' bursting from 
his mouth? 

She was not a woman for trifling, still less for secresy. 
He was as little the kind of lover. Both would be ready 
to take up their burden, if the burden was laid on them. 
— Diana had thus far impressed him. 

Meanwhile he faced the cathedral towers of the ancient 
Norman city, standing up in the smoky hues of the West ; 
and a sentence out of her book seemed fitting to the scene 
and what he felt. He rolled it over luxuriously as the 
next of delights to having her beside him. — She wrote of ; 
' Thoughts that are bare dark outlines, coloured by some old 
passion of the soul, like towers of a distant dty seen in the 
funeral waste of day.' — His bluff English anti-poetic 
traioing would have caused him to shrug at the stuff com- 
ing from another pen: he might condescendingly have 
criticized it, with a sneer embalmed in humour. The 
words were hers ; she had written them ; almost by a sort 
of anticipation, he imagined ; for he at once fell into the 
mood they suggested, and had a full crop of the 'bare 
dark outlines' of thoughts coloured by his particular 
form of passion. 

Diana had impressed him powerfully when she set him 
swallowing and assimilating a sentence ethereally thin in 
substance of mere sentimental significance, that he would 
antecedently have read aloud in a drawing-room, picking 
up the book by hazard, as your modem specimen of 
romantic vapouring. Mr. Dacier however was at the 
time in observation of the towers of Caen, fresh from her 
presence, animated to some conception of her spirit. He 



258 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

drove into the streets, desiring, half determining, to risk 
a drive back on the morrow. 

The cold light of the morrow combined with his fear of 
distressing her to restrain him. Perhaps he thought it 
well not to risk his gains. He was a northerner in blood. 
He may have thought it well not further to run the per- 
sonal risk immediately. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

EECORDS A VISIT TO DIANA PKOM ONE OF THE WOELD's 
GOOD WOMEN 

Pure disengagement of contemplativeness had selected 
Percy Dacier as the model of her Young Ministeb of 
State, Diana supposed. Could she otherwise have dared 
to sketch him? She certainly would not have done it 
now. 

That was a reflection similar to what is entertained by 
one who has dropped from a precipice to the midway 
ledge over the abyss, where caution of the whole sensitive 
being is required for simple self-preservation. How could 
she have been induced to study and portray him! It 
seemed a form of dementia. 

She thought this while imagining the world to be inter- 
rogating her. When she interrogated herself, she flew 
to Lugano and her celestial SaJvatore, that she might be 
defended from a charge of the dreadful weakness of her 
sex. Surely she there had proof of her capacity for pure 
disengagement. Even in recollection the springs of 
spiritual happiness renewed the bubbling crystal play. 
She believed that a divineness had wakened in her there, 
to strengthen her to the end, ward her from any com- 
plicity in her sex's culprit blushing. 



A VISIT TO DIANA 259 

Dacier's cry of her name was the cause, she chose to 
think, of the excessive circumspection she must hence- 
forth practise; precariously footing, embracing hardest 
earth, the plainest rules, to get back to safety. Not that 
she was personally endangered, or at least not spiritually ; 
she could always fly in soul to her heights. But she had 
now to be on guard, constantly in the fencing attitude. 
And watchful of herself as well. That was admitted with 
a ready frankness, to save it from being a necessitated 
and painful confession: for the voluntary acquiescence, 
if it involved her in her sex, claimed an individual ex- 
emption. 'Women are women, and I am a woman: 
but I am I, and unlike them : I see we are weak, and 
weakness tempts: ia owning the prudence of guarded 
steps, I am armed. It is by dissembling, feigning im- 
munity, that we are imperilled.' She would have phrased 
it so, with some anger at her feminine nature as well as at 
the subjection forced on her by circumstances. 

Besides, her position and Percy Dacier's threw the 
fancied danger into remoteness. The world was her_step- 
mother, vi gilanj^o becorae her judge : and the wqrjd was 
gr^kmaster^Jbopefu^^ Xw 

down for an offence. She saw their situation as he did. 
The course of folly must be bravely taken, if taken at all. 
Disguise degraded her to the reptiles. 
This was faced. Consequently there was no fear of it- 
She had very easily proved that she had skill and self- 
possession to keep him rational, and therefore they could 
continue to meet. A little outburst of frenzy to a rep- 
utably handsome woman could be treated as the froth 
of a passing wave. Men have the trick, infants their 
fevers. 

Diana's days were spent in reasoning. Her nights were 
not so tuneable to the superior mind. When asleep she 
was the sport of elves that danced her into tangles too 



260 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

deliciously unravelled, and left new problems for the wise- 
eyed and anxious morning. She solved them with the 
thought that in sleep it was the mere ordinary woman 
who fell a prey to her tormentors ; awake, she dispersed 
the swarm, her sky was clear. Gradually the persecution 
ceased, thanks to her active pen. 

A letter from her legal adviser, old Mr. Braddock, in- 
formed her that no grounds existed for apprehending 
marital annoyance, and late in May her household had 
resumed its customary round. 

She examined her accounts. The Debit and Credit sides 
presented much of the appearance of male and female in 
our jog-trot civilization. They matched middling well; 
with rather too marked a tendency to strain the leash and 
run frolic on the part of friend Debit (the wanton male), 
which deepened the blush of the comparison. Her father 
had noticed the same funny thing in his effort to balance 
his tugging accounts : ' Now then for a look at Man and 
Wife' : except that he made Debit stand for the portly 
frisky female. Credit the decorous and contracted other 
half, a prim gentleman of a constitutionally lean habit of 
body, remonstrating with her. 'You seem to forget that 
we are married, my dear, and must walk in step or bundle 
into the Bench,' Dan Merion used to say. 

Diana had not so much to rebuke in Mr. Debit ; or not 
at the first reckoning. But his ways were curious. She 
grew distrustful of him, after dismissing him with a quiet 
admonition and discovering a series of ambush bills, 
which he must have been aware of when he was allowed 
to pass as an honourable citizen. His answer to her re- 
proaches pleaded the necessitousness of his purchases 
and expenditure: a capital plea; and Mrs. Credit was 
requested by him, in a courteous manner, to drive her pen 
the faster, so that she might wax to a corresponding size 
and satisfy the world's idea of fitness in couples. She 



A VISIT TO DIANA 261 

would have costly furniture, because it pleased her taste ; 
and a French cook, for a like reason, in justice to her 
guests; and trained servants; and her tribe of pen- 
sioners ; flowers she would have profuse and fresh at her 
windows and over the rooms; and the pictures and en- 
gravings on the walls were (always for the good reason 
mentioned) choice ones ; and she had a love of old lace, 
she loved colours as she loved cheerfulness, and silks, and 
satin hangings, Indian ivory carvings, countless mirrors, 
Oriental woods, chairs and desks with some feature or a 
flourish in them, delicate tables with antelope legs, of 
approved workmanship in the chronology of European 
upholstery, and marble clocks of cimning device to sym- 
bol Time, mantelpiece decorations, illustrated editions 
of her favourite authors; her bed-chambers, too, gave 
the nest for sleep a dainty cosiness in aerial draperies. 
Hence, more or less directly, the peccant bills. Credit 
was reduced to reckon to a nicety the amoimt she could 
rely on positively : her fixed income from her investments 
and the letting of The Crossways: the days of half- 
yearly pajnnents that would magnify her to some pro- 
portions beside the alarming growth of her partner, who 
was proud of it, and referred her to the treasures she 
could summon with her pen, at a murmur of dissatis- 
faction. His compliments were sincere; they were 
seductive. He assured her that she had struck a rich 
vein in an inexhaustible mine; by writing only a very 
little faster she could double her income; coimtiug a 
broader popularity, treble it ; and so on a tide of success 
down the widening river to a sea sheer golden. Behold 
how it sparkles ! Are we then to stint our winged hours 
of youth for want of courage to realize the riches we can 
command? Debit was eloquent, he was unanswerable. 

Another calculator, an accustomed and lamentably- 
scrupulous arithmetician, had been at work for some 



262 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

time upon a speculative summing of the outlay of Diana's 
establishment, as to its chances of swamping the income. 
Redworth could guess pretty closely the cost of a house- 
hold, if his care for the holder set him venturing on aver-r 
ages. He knew nothing of her ten per cent, investment 
and considered her fixed income a beggarly regiment to 
marshal against the invader. He fancied however, in 
his ignorance of literary profits, that a popular writer, 
selling several editions, had come to an El Dorado. There 
was the mine. It required a diligent worker. Diana 
was often struck by hearing Redworth ask her when her 
next book might be expected. He appeared to have an 
eagerness in hurrying her to produce, and she had to say 
that she was not a nimble writer. His flattering im- 
patience was vexatious. He admired her work, yet he did 
his utmost to render it little admirable. His literary taste 
was not that of young Arthur Rhodes, to whom she could 
read her chapters, appearing to take counsel upon them 
while drinking the eulogies : she suspected him of prosaic- 
ally wishing her to make money, and though her ex- 
chequer was beginning to know the need of it, the author's 
lofty mind disdained such sordidness : — ^to be excused, 
possibly, for a failing productive energy. She encoun- 
tered obstacles to imaginative composition. With the 
pen in her hand, she would fall into heavy musings; 
break a sentence to muse, and not on the subject. She 
slept unevenly at night, was drowsy by day, unless the 
open air was about her, or animating friends. Redworth's 
urgency to get her to publish was particularly annoying 
when she . felt how greatly The Young Minister op 
State would have been improved had she retained the 
work to brood over it, polish, re-write passages, perfect 
it. Her musings embraced long dialogues of that work, 
never printed; they sprang up, they passed from 
memory ; leaving a distaste for her present work : The 



A VISIT TO DIANA 263 

Cantateice : far more poetical than the preceding, in 
the opinion of Arthur Rhodes; and the story was more 
romantic; modelled on a Prima Donna she had met at 
the musical parties of Henry Wilmers, after hearing 
Redworth tell of Charles Rainer's quaint passion for the 
woman, or the idea of the woman. Diana had courted 
her, studied and liked her. The picture she was drawing 
of the amiable and gifted Italian, of her villain Roumanian 
husband, and of the eccentric, high-minded, devoted 
Englishman, was good in a fashion; but considering the 
theme, she had reasonable apprehension that her Canta- 
teice would not repay her for the time and labour be- 
stowed on it. No clever transcripts of the dialogue of the 
day occurred ; no hair-breadth 'scapes, perils by sea and 
land, heroisms of the hero, fine shrieks of the heroine ; no 
set scenes of catching pathos and humour ; no distinguish- 
able points of social satire — equivalent to a smacking of 
the public on the chaps, which excites it to grin with keen 
discernment of the author's intention. She did not 
appeal to the senses nor to a superficial discernment. So 
she had the anticipatory sense of its failure; and she 
wrote her best, in perverseness ; of course she wrote 
slowly; she wrote more and more realistically of the 
characters and the downright human emotions, less of 
the wooden supernumeraries of her story, labelled for 
broad guffaw or deluge tears — the grappling natural links 
between our public and an author. Her feelings were 
aloof. They flowed at a hint of a scene of The Young 
Minister. She could not put them into The Cantateice. 
And Arthur Rhodes pronounced this work poetical 
beyond its predecessors, for the reason that the chief char- 
acters were alive and the reader felt their pulses. He 
meant to say, they were poetical inasmuch as they were 
creations. 
^ The slow progress of a work not driven by the author's 



264 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

feelings necessitated frequent consultations between Debit 
and Credit, resulting in altercations, recriminations, dis- 
cord of the yoked and divergent couple. To restore them 
to their proper trot in harness, Diana reluctantly went to 
her publisher for an advance item of the sum she was to 
receive, and the act increased her distaste. An idea came 
that she would soon cease to be able to write at all. What 
then? Perhaps by selling her invested money, and 
ultimately The Crossways, she would have enough for 
her term upon earth. Necessarily she had to think that 
short, in order to reckon it as nearly enough. 'I am sure,' 
she said to herself, 'I shall not trouble the world very long.' 
A strange languor beset her; scarcely melancholy, for 
she conceived the cheerfulness of life and added to it in 
company; but a nervelessness, as though she had been 
left by the stream on the banks, and saw beauty and 
pleasure sweep along and away, while the sun that primed 
them dried her veins. At this time she was gaining her 
widest reputation for brilliancy of wit. Only to welcome 
guests were her evenings ever spent at home. She had 
no intimate understanding of the deadly wrestle of the 
conventional woman with her nature which she was 
undergoing below the surface. Perplexities she acknowl- 
edged, and the prudence of guardedness. 'But as I am 
sure not to live very long, we may as well meet.' Her 
meetings with Percy Dacier were therefore hardly shunned, 
and his behaviour did not warn her to discoimtenance 
them. It would have been cruel to exclude him from 
her select little dinners of eight. Whitmonby, Westlake, 
Henry Wilmers and the rest, she perhaps aiding, schooled 
him in the conversational art. She heard it said of him, 
that the courted discarder of the sex, hitherto a mere 
politician, was wonderfully humanized. Lady Pennon 
fell to talking of him hopefully. She declared him to be 
one of the men who unfold tardily, and only await the 



A VISIT TO DIANA 265 

mastering passion. If the passion had come, it was 
controlled. His command of himself melted Diana. 
How could she forbid his entry to the houses she fre- 
quented? She was glad to see him. He showed his 
pleasure in seeiag her. Remembering his tentative in- 
discretion on those foreign sands, she reflected that he 
had been easily checked : and the like was not to be said 
of some others. Beautiful women in her position provoke 
an intemperateness that contrasts touchingly with the 
self-restraint of a particular admirer. Her 'impassioned 
Caledonian' was one of a host, to speak of whom and their 
fits of lunacy even to her friend Emma, was repulsive. 
She bore with them, foiled them, passed them, and re- 
covered her equanimity; but the contrast called to her 
to dwell on it, the self-restraint whispered of a depth of 
passion. . . . 

She was shocked at herself for a singular tremble she 
experienced, without any beating of the heart, on hearing 
one day that the marriage of Percy Dacier and Miss Asper 
was at last definitely fixed. Mary Paynham brought her 
the news. She had it from a lady who had come across 
Miss Asper at Lady Wathin's assemblies, and considered 
the great heiress extraordinarily handsome. 

'A golden miracle,' Diana gave her words to say. 
'Good looks and gold together are rather superhuman. 
The report may be this time true.' 

Next afternoon the card of Lady Wathin requested 
Mrs. Warwick to grant her a private interview. 

Lady Wathin, as one of the order of women who can do 
anjrthing in a holy cause, advanced toward Mrs. Warwick, 
unabashed by the burden of her mission, and spinally 
prepared, behind benevolent smilings, to repay dignity of 
mien with a similar erectness of dignity. They touched 
fingers and sat. The preliminaries to the matter of the 
interview were brief between ladies physically sensible 



266 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

of antagonism and mutually too scornful of subterfuges 
in one another's presence to beat the bush. 

Lady Wathin began. 'I am, you are aware, Mrs. 
Warwick, a cousin of your friend Lady Dunstane.' 

' You come to me on business ? ' Diana said. 

'It may be so termed. I have no personal interest in it. 
I come to lay certain facts before you which I think you 
should know. We think it better that an acquaintance, 
and one of your sex, should state the case to you, instead 
of having recourse to formal intermediaries, lawyers . . . ' 

' Lawyers ? ' 

'Well, my husband is a lawyer, it is true. In the 
course of his professional vocations he became acquainted 
with Mr. Warwick. We have latterly seen a good deal 
of him. He is, I regret to say, seriously unwell.' 

'I have heard of it.' 

'He has no female relations, it appears. He needs 
more care than he can receive from hirelings.' 

' Are you empowered by him. Lady Wathin ? ' 

'I am, Mrs. Warwick. We will not waste time in 
apologies. He is most anxious for a reconciliation. It 
seems to Sir Cramborne and to me the most desireable 
thing for all parties concerned, if you can be induced to 
regard it in that light. Mr. Warwick may or may not 
live; but the estrangement is quite undoubtedly the 
cause of his illness. I touch on nothiug connected with 
it. I simply wish that you should not be in ignorance of 
his proposal and his condition.' 

Diana bowed calmly. ' I grieve at his condition. His 
proposal has already been made and replied to.' 

'Oh, but, Mrs. Warwick, an immediate and decisive 
refusal of a proposal so fraught with consequences . . . !' 

'Ah, but, Lady Wathin, you are now outstepping the 
limits prescribed by the office you have undertaken.' 

'You will not lend ear to an intercession?' 



A VISIT TO DIANA 267 

'I will not.' 

'Of course, Mrs. Warwick, it is not for me to hint at 
things that lawyers could say on the subject.' 

'Your forbearance is creditable, Lady Wathin.' 

'Believe me, Mrs. Warwick, the step is — I speak in 
my husband's name as well as my own — strongly to be 
advised.' 

' If I hear one word more of it, I leave the country.' 

'I should be sorry indeed at any piece of rashness de- 
priving your numerous friends of your society. We have 
recently become acquainted with Mr. Redworth, and I 
know the loss you would be to them. I have not at- 
tempted an appeal to your feeUngs, Mrs. Warwick.' 

'I thank you warmly. Lady Wathin, for what you have 
not done.' 

The aristocratic airs of Mrs. Warwick were annojdng to 
Lady Wathin when she considered that they were bor- 
rowed, and that a pattern morality could regard the 
woman as ostracized : nor was it agreeable to be looked 
at through eyelashes imder partially lifted brows. She 
had come to appeal to the feelings of the wife ; at any rate, 
to discover if she had some and was better than a wild 
adventuress. 

'Our life below is short!' she said. To which Diana 
tacitly assented. 

'We have our little term, Mrs. Warwick. It is soon 
over.' 

'On the other hand, the platitudes concerning it are 
eternal.' 

Lady Wathin closed her eyes, that the like effect might 
be produced on her ears. 'Ah ! they are the truths. But 
it is not my business to preach. Permit me to say that I 
feel deeply for your husband.' 

'I am glad of Mr. Warwick's having friends; and they 
are many, I hope.' 



268 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'They cannot behold him perishing, without an effort 
on his behalf.' 

A chasm of silence intervened. Wifely pity was not 
sounded in it. 

'He will question me, Mrs. Warwick.' 

'You can report to him the heads of our conversation, 
Lady Wathin.' 

'Would you — it is your husband's most earnest wish; 
and our house is open to his wife and to him for the pur- 
pose ; and it seems to us that . . . indeed it might avert 
a catastrophe you would necessarily deplore : — would you 
consent to meet him at my house?' 

'It has already been asked, Lady Wathin, and refused.' 

'But at my house — under our auspices !' 

Diana glanced at the clock. ' Nowhere.' 

' Is it not — pardon me — a wife's duty, Mrs. Warwick, at 
least to listen?' 

' Lady Wathin, I have listened to you.' 

' In the case of his extreme generosity so putting it, for 
the present, Mrs. Warwick, that he asks only to be heard 
personally by his wife ! It may preclude so much.' 

Diana felt a hot wind across her skin. 

She smiled and said : ' Let me thank you for bringing 
to an end a mission that must have been unpleasant to 
you.' 

'But you will meditate on it, Mrs. Warwick, will you 
not ? Give me that assurance ! ' 

'I shall not forget it,' said Diana. 

Again the ladies touched fingers, with an interchange of 
the social grimace of cordiality. A few words of com- 
passion for poor Lady Dunstane's invalided state covered 
Lady Wathin's retreat. 

She left, it struck her rufHed sentiments, an icy libertine, 
whom any husband caring for his dignity and comfort was 
well rid of ; and if only she could have contrived allusively 



A SOUL PREPARED FOR DESPERATION 269 

to bring in the name of Mr. Percy Dacier, just to show 
these arrant coquettes, or worse, that they were not quite 
so privileged to pursue their intrigues obscurely as they 
imagined, it would have soothed her exasperation. 

She left a woman the prey of panic. 

Diana thought of Emma and Redworth, and of their 
foolish interposition to save her character and keep her 
bound. She might now have been free! The struggle 
with her manacles reduced her to a state of rebelliousness, 
from which issued vivid iUimiinations of the one means 
of certain escape ; an abhorrent hissing cavern, that led to 
a place named Liberty, her refuge, but a hectic place. 

Unable to write, hating the house which held her a fixed 
mark for these attacks, she had an idea of flying straight 
to her beloved Lugano lake, and there hiding, abandoning 
her friends, casting off the slave's name she bore, and 
living free in spirit. She went so far as to reckon the cost 
of a small household there, and justify the violent step 
by an exposition of retrenchment upon her large London 
expenditure. She had but to say farewell to Emma, no 
other tie to cut ! One morning on the Salvatore heights 
would wash her clear of the webs defacing and entangling 
her. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

INDICATES A SOUL PREPARED FOR DESPERATION 

The month was August, four days before the closing of 
Parliament, and Diana fancied it good for Arthur Rhodes 
to run down with her to Copsley. He came to her invita- 
tion joyfully, reminding her of Lady Dunstane's wish to 
hear some chapters of The Cantatrice, and the MS. was 
packed. They started, taking rail and fly, and winding up 



270 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the distance on foot. August is the month of sober matur- 
ity and majestic foliage, songless, but a crowned and royal- 
robed queenly month; and the youngster's appreciation 
of the homely scenery refreshed Diana; his delight ui 
being with her was also pleasant. She had no wish to ex- 
change him for another; and that was a strengthening 
thought. 

At Copsley the arrival of their luggage had prepared the 
welcome. Warm though it was, Diana perceived a change 
in Emma, an unwonted reserve, a doubtfulness of her eyes, 
in spite of tenderness ; and thus thrown back on herself, 
thinking that if she had followed her own counsel (as she 
called her impulse) in old days, there would have been no 
such present misery, she at once, and unconsciously, as- 
sumed a guarded look. Based on her knowledge of her 
honest footing, it was a little defiant. Secretly in her 
bosom it was sharpened to a slight hostility by the knowl- 
edge that her mind had been straying. The guUt and the 
innocence combined to clothe her in mail, the innocence 
being positive, the guilt so vapoury. But she was armed 
only if necessary, and there was no requirement for armour. 
Emma did not question at all. She saw the alteration in 
her Tony : she was too full of the tragic apprehensiveness. 
overmastering her to speak of trifles. She had never con- 
fided to Tony the exact nature and the growth of her malady, 
thinking it mortal, and fearing to alarm her dearest. 

A portion of the manuscript was read out by Arthur 
Rhodes in the evening; the remainder next morning. 
Redworth perceptibly was the model of the English hero ;, 
and as to his person, no friend could complain of the sketch; 
his clear-eyed heartiness, manliness, wholesomeness — a. 
word of Lady Dunstane's regarding him, — and his hand- 
some braced figure, were well painted. Emma forgave the 
insistance on a certain bluntness of the nose, in considera- 
tion of the fond limning of his honest and expressive eyes^ 



A SOUL PREPARED FOR DESPERATION 271 

and the 'light on his temples,' which they had noticed 
together. She could not so easily forgive the realistic 
picture of the man: an exaggeration, she thought, of 
small foibles, that even if they existed, should not have 
been stressed. The turn for 'calculating' was shown up 
ridiculously ; Mr. Cuthbert Dering was calculating in his 
impassioned moods as well as in his cold. His head was a 
long division of ciphers. He had statistics for spectacles, 
and beheld the world through them, and the mistress he 
worshipped. 

'I see,' said Emma, during a pause; 'he is a Saxon. 
You still affect to have the race en grippe, Tony.' 

'I give him every credit for what he is,' Diana replied. 
'I admire the finer qualities of the race as much as any 
one. You want to have them presented to you ia 
enamel, Emmy.' 

But the worst was an indication that the mania for cal- 
culating in and out of season would lead to the catastrophe 
destructive of his happiness. Emma could not bear that. 
Without asking herself whether it could be possible that 
Tony knew the secret, or whether she would have laid it 
bare, her sympathy for Redworth revolted at the exposure. 
She was chilled. She let it pass'; she merely said: 'I 
like the writing.' 

Diana understood that her story was condemned. 

She put on her robes of philosophy to cloak discourage- 
ment. 'I am glad the writing pleases you.' 

'The characters are as true as life!' cried Arthur 
Rhodes. 'The Cantatrice drinking porter from the 
pewter at the slips after harrowing the hearts of her 
audience, is dearer to me than if she had tottered to a sofa 
declining sustenance ; and because her creatrix has infused 
such blood of life into her that you accept naturally what- 
ever she does. She was exhausted, and required the 
porter, like a labourer in the cornfield.' 



272 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Emma looked at him, and perceived the poet swamped 
by the admirer. Taken in conjunction with Mr. Cuthbert 
Bering's frenzy for calculating, she disliked the incident of 
the porter and the pewter. 

'While the Cantatrice swallowed her draught, I suppose 
Mr. Bering counted the cost ? ' she said. 

' It really might be hinted,' said Diana. 

The discussion closed with the accustomed pro and con 
upon the wart of Cromwell's nose, Realism rejoicing in it. 
Idealism objecting. 

Arthur Rhodes was bidden to stretch his legs on a walk 
along the heights in the afternoon, and Emma was further 
vexed by hearing Tony complain of Redworth's treatment 
of the lad, whom he would not assist to any of the snug 
little posts he was notoriously able to dispense. 

'He has talked of Mr. Rhodes to me,' said Emma. 
'He thinks the profession of literature a delusion, and 
doubts the wisdom of having poets for clerks.' 

'John-Bullish!' Diana exclaimed. 'He speaks con- 
temptuously of the poor boy.' 

' Only inasmuch as the foolishness of the young man in 
throwing up the Law provokes his practical mind to speak.' 

'He might take my' word for the "young man's" 
ability. I want him to have the means of living, that he 
may write. He has genius.' 

' He may have it. I like him, and have said so. If he 
were to go back to his law-stool, I have no doubt that 
Redworth would manage to help him.' 

'And make a worthy ancient Braddock of a youth of 
splendid promise ! Have I sketched him too Saxon?' 

'It is the lens, and not the tribe, Tony.' 

The Cantatrice was not alluded to any more; but 
Emma's disapproval blocked the current of composition, 
already subject to chokings in the brain of the author. 
Diana stayed three days at Copsley, one longer than she 



A SOUL PREPARED FOR DESPERATION 273 

had intended, so that Arthur Rhodes might have his fill of 
country air. 

'I would keep him, but I should be no companion for 
him,' Emma said. 

'I suspect the gallant squire is only to be satisfied by 
landing me safely,' said Diana, and that small remark 
grated, though Emma saw the simple meaning. When 
they parted, she kissed her Tony many times. Tears were 
in her eyes. It seemed to Diana that she was anxious to 
make amends for the fit of alienation, and she was kissed 
in return warmly, quite forgiven, notwithstanding the 
deadly blank she had caused in the imagination of the 
writer for pay, distracted by the squabbles of Debit and 
Credit. 

Diana chatted spiritedly to young Rhodes on their drive 
to the train. She wasprofoundly discouraged by Emma's 
disapproval of her work. It wanted but that one drop to 
make a recurrence to the work impossible. There it must 
lie! And what of the aspects of her household? — Per- 
haps, after all, the Redworths of the world are right, and 
Literature as a profession is a delusive pursuit. She did 
not assent to it without hostility to the world's Redworths. 
— 'They have no sensitiveness, we have too much. We 
are made of bubbles that a wind will burst, and as the 
wind is always blowing, your practical Redworths have 
their crow of us.' 

She suggested advice to Arthur Rhodes upon the 
prudence of his resuming the yoke of the Law. 

He laughed at such a notion, saying that he had some 
expectations of money to come. 

'But I fear,' said he, 'that Lady Dunstane is very very 
HI. She begged me to keep her informed of your address.' 

Diana told him he was one of those who should know it 
whithersoever she went. She spoke impulsively, her sen- 
timents of friendliness for the youth being temporarily 



274 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

brightened by the strangeness of Emma's conduct in 
deputing it to him to fulfil a duty she had never omitted. 
'What can she think I am going to do!' 

On her table at home lay a letter from Mr. Warwick. 
She read it hastily in the presence of Arthur Rhodes, 
having at a glance, at the handwriting anticipated the 
proposal it contained and the official phrasing. 

Her gallant squire was invited to dine with her that 
evening, costume excused. 

They conversed of Literature as a profession, of poets 
dead and living, of politics, which he abhorred and shied 
at, and of his prospects. He wrote many rejected pages, 
enjoyed an income of eighty pounds per annmn, and eked 
out a subsistence upon the modest sum his pen procured 
him; a sum extremely insignificant; but great Nature 
was his own, the world was tributary to him, the future his 
bejewelled and expectant bride. Diana envied his youth- 
fulness. Nothing is more enviable, nothing richer to the 
mind, than the aspect of a cheerful poverty. How much 
nobler it was, contrasted with Redworth's amassing of 
wealth ! 

When alone, she went to her bedroom and tried to write, 
tried to sleep. Mr. Warwick's letter was looked at. It 
seemed to indicate a threat ; but for the moment it did not 
disturb her so much as the review of her moral prostration. 
She wrote ^ome lines to her lawyers, quoting one of Mr. 
Warwick's sentences. That done, his letter was dismissed. 
Her intolerable languor became alternately a defeating 
drowsiness and a fever. She succeeded in the effort to 
smother the absolute cause : it was not suffered to show a 
front; at the cost of her knowledge of a practised self- 
deception. 'I wonder whether the world is as bad as a 
certain class of writers tell us !' she sighed in weariness, 
and mused on their soundings and probings of poor 
humanity, which the world accepts for the very bottom- 



A SOUL- PREPARED FOR DESPERATION 275 

truth if their dredge brings up sheer refuse of the abomin- 
able. The world imagines those to be at our nature's 
depths who are impudent enough to expose its muddy 
shallows. She was in the mood for such a kind of writing : 
she could have started on it at once but that the theme was 
wanting ; and it may count on popularity, a great repute 
for penetration. It is true of its kind, though the dredging 
of nature is the miry form of art. When it flourishes we 
may be assured we have been overenamelling the higher 
forms. She felt, and shuddered to feel, that she could 
draw from dark stores. Hitherto in her works it had been 
a triumph of the good. They revealed a gaping deficiency 
of the subtle insight she now possessed. 'Exhibit 
humanity as it is, wallowing, sensual, wicked, behind the 
mask,' a voice called to her ; she was allured by the con- 
templation of the wide-mouthed old dragon Ego, whose 
portrait, decently painted, establishes an instant touch of 
exchange between author and public, the latter detected 
and confessing. Next to the pantomime of Humour and 
Pathos, a cynical surgical knife at the human bosom 
seems the surest talisman for this agreeable exchange ; and 
she could cut. She gave herself a taste of her powers. 
She cut at herself mercilessly, and had to bandage the 
wound in a hurry to keep in life. 

Metaphors were her refuge. Metaphorically she could 
aUow her mind to distinguish the struggle she was under- 
going, sinking under it. The banished of Eden had to put 
on metaphors, and the common use of them has helped 
largely to civilize us. The sluggish in intellect detest 
them, but our civilization is not much indebted to that 
major faction. Especially are they needed by the 
pedestaUed woman in her conflict with the natural. 
Diana saw herself through the haze she conjured up. 
'Am I worse than other women?' was a piercing twi- 
yiiought. Worse, would be hideous isolation. The not 



276 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

worse, abased her sex. She could afford to say that the 
world was bad : not that women were. 

Sinking deeper, an anguish of humiliation smote her to a 
sense of drowning. For what of the poetic ecstasy on her 
Salvatore heights had not been of origin divine? had 
sprung from other than spiritual founts ? had sprung from 
the reddened sources she was compelled to conceal? 
Could it be? She would not believe it. But there 
was matter to clip her wings, quench her light, in the 
doubt. 

She fell asleep like the wrecked flung ashore. 

Danvers entered her room at an early hour for London to 
inform her that Mr. Percy Dacier was below, and begged 
permission to wait. 

Diana gave orders for breakfast to be proposed to him. 
She lay staring at the wall until it became too visibly a 
reflection of her mind. 



CHAPTER XXV 

ONCE MORE THE CROSSWAYS AND A CHANGE OF TURNINGS 

The suspicion of his having come to impart the news of 
his proximate marriage ultimately endowed her with 
sovereign calmness. She had need to think it, and she did. 
Tea was brought to her while she dressed ; she descended 
the stairs revolving phrases of happy congratulation and 
the world's ordinary epigrams upon the marriage-tie, 
neatly mixed. 

They read in one another's faces a different meaning 
from the empty words of excuse and welcome. Dacier's 
expressed the buckling of a strong set purpose; but, 
grieved by the look of her eyes, he wasted a moment to 
say: 'You have not slept. You have heard . . .?' 



A CHANGE OF TURNINGS 277 

' What ? ' said she, trying to speculate ; and that was a 
sufficient answer. 

'I hadn't the courage to call last night; I passed the 
windows. Give me your hand, I beg.' 

She gave her hand in wonderment, and more wonder- 
ingly felt it squeezed. Her heart began the hammer- 
thump. She spoke an unintelligible something ; saw her- 
self melting away to utter weakness — pride, reserve, 
simple prudence, all going; crumbled ruins where had 
stood a fortress imposing to men. Was it love? Her 
heart thumped shiveringly. 

He kept her hand, indifferent to the gentle tension. 

'This is the point : I cannot live without you. I have 
gone on . . . Who was here last night? Forgive me.' 

'You know Arthur Rhodes.' 

' I saw him leave the door at eleven. Why do you tor- 
ture me ? There 's no time to lose now. You will be 
claimed. Come, and let us two cut the knot. It is the 
best thing in the world for me — the only thing. Be brave ! 
I have your hand. Give it for good, and for heaven's sake 
don't play the sex. Be yourself. Dear soul of a woman ! 
I never saw the soul in one but in you. I have waited : 
nothing but the dread of losing you sets me speaking now. 

And for you to be sacrificed a second time to that ! Oh, 

no ! You know you can trust me. On my honour, I take 
breath from you. You are my better in everything — 
guide, goddess, dearest heart! Trust me; make me 
master of your fate.' 

'But my friend !' the murmur hung in her throat. He 
was marvellously transformed; he allowed no space for 
the arts of defence and evasion. 

'I wish I had the trick of courting. There 's not time ; 
and I 'm a simpleton at the game. We can start this 
evening. Once away, we leave it to them to settle the 
•matter, and then you are free, and mine to the death.' 



278 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

' But speak, speak ! What is it ? ' Diana said. 

'That if we delay, I 'm in danger of losing you alto- 
gether.' 

Her eyes lightened: 'You mean that you have heard 
he has determined . . .?' 

'There 's a process of the law. But stop it. Just this 
one step, and it ends. Whether intended or not, it hangs 
over you, and you will be perpetually tormented. Why 
waste your whole youth? — and mine as well! For I am 
bound to you as much as if we had stood at the altar — 
where we will stand together the instant you are free.' 

' But where have you heard . . . ? ' 

'From an intimate friend. I will tell you — sufficiently 
intimate — ^from Lady Wathin. Nothing of a friend, but I 
see this woman at times. She chose to speak of it to me — 
it doesn't matter why. She is in his confidence, and 
pitched me a whimpering tale. Let those people chatter. 
But it 's exactly for those people that you are hanging in 
chains, all your youth shrivelling. Let them shout their 
worst ! It 's the bark of a day ; and you won't hear it ; 
half a year, and it will be over, and I shall bring you back 
— the husband of the noblest bride in Christendom ! You 
don't mistrust me?' 

'It is not that,' said she. ' But now drop my hand. I 
am imprisoned.' 

'It 's asking too much. I 've lost you too many times. 
I have the hand and I keep it. I take nothing but the 
hand. It 's the hand I want. I give you mine. I love 
you. Now I know what love is ! — and the word carries 
nothing of its weight. Tell me you do not doubt my 
honour.' 

'Not at all. But be rational. I must think, and I 
cannot whUe you keep my hand.' 

He kissed it. 'I keep my own against the world.' 

A cry of rebuke swelled to her lips at his conqueror's 



A CHANGE OF TURNINGS 279 

tone. It was not uttered, for directness was in his char- 
acter and his wooing loyal — save for bitter circumstances, 
delicious to hear; and so narrow was the ring he had 
wound about her senses, that her loathing of the circum- 
stances pushed her to acknowledge within her bell of a 
heart her love for him. 

He was luckless enough to say : 'Diana !' 

It rang horridly of her husband. She drew her hand to 
loosen it, with repulsing brows. 'Not that name !' 

Dacier was too full of his honest advocacy of the passion- 
ate lover to take a rebuff. There lay his unconscious 
mastery, where the common arts of attack would have 
tripped him with a quick-witted woman, and where a man 
of passion, not allowing her to succimib in dignity, would 
have alarmed her to the breaking loose from him. 

' Lady Dunstane calls you Tony.' 

'She is my dearest and oldest friend.' 

' You and I don't coimt by years. You are the dearest 
to me on earth, Tony !' 

She debated as to forbidding that name. 

The moment's pause wrapped her in a mental hurricane, 
out of which she came with a heart stopped, her olive 
cheeks ashen-hued. She had seen that the step was 
possible. 

'Oh ! Percy, Percy, are we mad?' 

'Not mad. We take what is ours. Tell me, have I 
ever, ever disrespected you? You were sacred to me; 
and you are, though now the change has come. Look back 
on it — it is time lost, years that are dust. But look for- 
ward, and you cannot imagine our separation. What I 
propose is plain sense for us two. Since Rovio, I have 
been at your feet. Have I not some just claim for recom- 
pense? Tell me! Tony!' 

The sweetness of the secret name, the privileged name, 
in his mouth stole through her blood, melting resistance. 



280 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

She had consented. The swarthy flaming of her face 
avowed it even more than the surrender of her hand. He 
gained much by claiming little : he respected her, gave her 
no touches of fright and shame ; and it was her glory to 
fall with pride. An attempt at a caress would have 
awakened her view of the whitherward: but she was 
treated as a sovereign lady rationally advised. 

'Is it since Rovio, Percy?' 

'Since the morning when you refused me one little 
flower.' 

'If I had given it, you might have been saved !' 

' I fancy I was doomed from the beginning.' 

'I was worth a thought?' 

'Worth a life ! worth ten thousand !' 

'You have reckoned it all like a sane man: — ^family, 
position, the world, the scandal?' 

'All. I have long known that you were the mate for 
me. You have to weather a gale, Tony. It won't last. 
My dearest! it won't last many months. I regret the 
trial for you, but I shaU be with you, burning for the 
day to reinstate you and show you the queen you 
are.' 

'Yes, we two can have no covert dealings, Percy,' said 
Diana. They would be hateful — baseness ! Rejecting 
any baseness, it seemed to her that she stood in some 
brightness. The light was of a lurid sort. She called on 
her heart to glory in it as the light of tried love, the love 
that defied the world. Her heart rose. She and he would 
at a single step give proof of their love for one another : 
and this kingdom of love — ^how different from her recent 
craven languors ! — this kingdom awaited her, was hers for 
one word; and beset with the oceans of enemies, it was 
unassailable. If only they were true to the love they 
vowed, no human force could subvert it : and she doubted 
him as little as of herself. This new kingdom of love, 



A CHANGE OF TURNINGS 281 

never entered by her, acclaiming her, was well-nigh un- 
imaginable, in spite of the many hooded messengers it had 
despatched to her of late. She could hardly believe that 
it had come. 

'But see me as I am,' she said; she faltered it through 
her direct gaze on him. 

'With chains to strike off? Certainly; it is done,' 
he replied. 

' Rather heavier than those of the slave-market ! I am 
the deadest of burdens. It means that your enemies, per- 
sonal — if you have any, and political — you have numbers, 
will raise a cry. . . . Realize it. You may still be my 
friend. I forgive the bit of wildness.' 

She provoked a renewed kissing of her hand ; for mag- 
nanimity in love is an overflowing danger ; and when he 
said; 'The burden you have to bear outweighs mine out 
of all comparison. What is it to a man — a public man or 
not ! The woman is always the victim. That 's why I 
have held myself in so long' : — her strung frame softened. 
She half yielded to the tug on her arm. 

'Is there no talking for us without foolishness?' she 
murmured. The foolishness had wafted her to sea, far 
from sight of land. ' Now sit, and speak soberly. Discuss 
the matter. — ^Yes, my hand, but I must have my wits. 
Leave me free to use them till we choose our path. Let it 
be the brains between us, as far as it can. You ask me to 
join my fate to yours. It signifies a sharp battle for you, 
dear friend ; perhaps the blighting of the most promising 
life in England. One question is, can I countervail the 
burden I shall be, by such help to you as I can afford? 
Burden, is no word — I rake up a buried fever. I have 
partially lived it down, and instantly I am covered with 
spots. The old false charges and this plain offence make a 
monster of me.' 

'And meanwhile you are at the disposal of the man who 



282 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

falsely charged you and armed the world against you,' said 
Dacier. 

'I can fly. The world is wide.' 

'Time slips. Your youth is wasted. If you escape th« 
man, he will have triumphed in keeping you from me. 
And I thirst for you ; I look to you for aid and counsel ; I 
want my mate. You have not to be told how you inspire 
me? I am really less than half myself without you. If 
I am to do anything in the world, it must be with your aid, 
you beside me. Our hands are joined : one leap ! Do 
you not see that after . . . well, it cannot be friendship. 
It imposes rather more on me than I can bear. You are 
not the woman to trifle ; nor I, Tony, the man for it with a 
woman like you. You are my spring of wisdom, You 
interdict rae altogether — can you ? — or we unite our fates, 
like these nands now. Try to get yours away !' 

Her effort ended in a pressure. Resistance, nay, to iesi- 
tate at the joining of her life with his after her submission 
to what was a scorching fire in memory, though it was less 
than an embrace, accused her of worse than foolishness. 

'Well, then,' said she, 'wait three days. Deliberate. 
Oh ! try to know yourself, for your clear reason to guide 
you. Let us be something better than the crowd abusing 
us, not simple creatures of impulse — as we choose to call 
the animal. What if we had to confess that we took to 
our heels the moment the idea struck us ! Three days. 
We may then pretend to a philosophical resolve. Then 
come to me : or write to me.' 

' How long is it since the old Rovio morning, Tony ? ' 

'An age.' 

'Date my deliberations from that day.' 

The thought of hers having to be dated possibly from an 
earlier day, robbed her of her summit of feminine isolation, 
and she trembled, chilled and flushed ; she lost all anchor- 
age. 



A CHANGE OF TURNINGS 283 

'So it must be to-morrow/ said he, reading her closely, 
'not later. Better at once. But women are not to be 
hurried.' 

'Oh ! don't class me, Percy, pray ! I think of you, not 
of myself.' 

'You suppose that in a day or two I might vary?' 

She fixed her eyes on him, expressing certainty of his 
unalterable stedfastness. The look allured. It changed : 
her head shook. She held away and said : ' No, leave me ; . 
leave me, dear, dear friend. Percy, my dearest ! I will not 
" play the sex." I am yours if ... if it is your wish. It 
may as well be to-morrow. Here I am useless ; I catinot 
write, not screw a thought from my head. I dread that 
"process of the Law" a second time. To-morrow, if it 
must be. But no impulses. Fortune is blind ■ she may 
be kind to us. The blindness of Fortune is her one merit, 
and fools accuse her of it, and they profit by it ! I fear we 
all of us have our turn of folly : we throw the stake for 
good luck. I hope my sin is not very great. I know my 
position is desperate. I feel a culprit. But I am sure I 
have courage, perhaps brains to help. At any rate, I may 
say this : I bring no burden to my lover that he does not 
know of.' 

Dacier pressed her hand. ' Money we shall have enough. 
My uncle has left me fairly supplied.' 

'What would he think?' said Diana, half in a glimpse 
of meditation. 

' Think me the luckiest of the breeched. I fancy I hear 
him thanking you for "making a man" of me.' 

She blushed. Some such phrase might have been 
spoken by Lord Dannisburgh. 

'I have but a poor sum of money,' she said. 'I may 
be able to write abroad. Here I cannot — if I am to be 
persecuted.' 
. 'You shall write, with a new pen !' said Dacier. 'You 



284 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

shall live, my darling Tony. You have been held too long 
in this miserable suspension, neither maid nor wife, neither 
woman nor stockfish. Ah ! shameful. But we '11 right it. 
The step, for us, is the most reasonable that could be con- 
sidered. You shake your head^ But the circumstances 
make it so. Courage, and we come to happiness ! And 
that, for you and me, means work. Look at the case of 
Lord and Lady Dulac. It 's identical, except that she is^ 
no match beside you : and I do not compare her antece- 
dents with yours. But she braved the leap, and forced the 
world to swallow it, and now, you see, she 's perfectly 
honoured. I know a place on a peak of the Maritime Alps;, 
exquisite in summer, cool, perfectly solitary, no English,, 
snow round us, pastures at our feet, and the Mediter- 
ranean below. There ! my Tony. To-morrow night we 
start. You will meet me — shall I call here? — well, then 
at the railway station, the South-Eastern, for Paris : say,, 
twenty minutes to eight. I have your pledge? You. 
will come?' 

She sighed it, then said it firmly, to be worthy of him. 
Kind Fortune, peeping under the edge of her bandaged 
eyes, appeared willing to bestow the beginning of happi- 
ness upon one who thought she had a claim to a small taste^ 
of it before she died. It seemed distinguishingly done, to 
give a bite of happiness to the starving ! 

' I fancied when you were announced that you came for 
congratulations upon your approaching marriage, Percy.' 

' I shall expect to hear them from you to-morrow even- 
ing at the station, dear Tony,' said he. 

The time was again stated, the pledge repeated. He 
forbore entreaties for privileges, and won her gratitude. 

They named once more the place of meeting and the 
hour : more significant to them than phrases of intensest 
love and passion. Pressing hands sharply for pledge of 
good faith, they sundered. 



A CHANGE OF TURNINGS 285 

She still had him in her eyes when he had gone. Her 
old world lay shattered ; her new world was up without a 
dawn, with but one figure, the sun of it, to light the swing- 
ing strangeness. 

Was ever man more marvellously transformed? or 
woman more wildly swept from earth into the clouds? 
So she mused in the hum of her tempest of heart and brain, 
forgetful of the years and the conditions preparing both of 
them for this explosion. 

She had much to do : the arrangements to dismiss her 
servants, write to house-agents and her lawyer, and write 
fully to Emma, write the enigmatic farewell to the Es- 
quarts and Lady Pennon, Mary Paynham, Arthur Rhodes, 
Whitmonby (stanch in friendship, but requiring friendly 
touches), Henry Wilmers, and Redworth. He was re- 
served to the last, for very enigmatical adieux : he would 
hear the whole story from Emma ; must be left to think 
as he liked. 

The vague letters were excellently well composed : she 
was going abroad, and knew not when she would return ; 
bade her friends think the best they could of her in the 
meantime. Whitmonby was favoured with an anecdote, 
to be read as an apologue by the Ught of subsequent events. 
But the letter to Emma tasked Diana. Intending to 
write fully, her pen committed the briefest sentences : the 
tenderness she felt for Emma wakening her heart to sing 
that she was loved, loved, and knew love at last; and 
Emma's foreseen antagonism to the love and the step it 
involved rendered her pleadings in exculpation a stam- 
mered confession of guiltiness, ignominious, unworthy of 
the pride she felt in her lover. 'I am like a cartridge 
rammed into a gun, to be discharged at a certain hour to- 
morrow,' she wrote; and she sealed a letter so frigid that 
she could not decide to post it. All day she imagined 
hearing a distant cannonade. The light of the day 



286 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

following was not like earthly light. Danvers assured her 
there was no fog in London. 

'London is insupportable; I am going to Paris, and 
shall send for you in a week or two/ said Diana. 

'Allow me to say, ma'am, that you had better take me 
with you,' said Danvers. 

'Are you afraid of travelling by yourself, you foolish 
creature?' 

' No, ma'am, but I don't like any hands to undress and 
dress my mistress but my own.' 

'I have not lost the art,' said Diana, chafing for a magic 
spell to extinguish the woman, to whom, immediately 
pitying her, she said: 'You are a good faithful soul. I 
think you have never kissed me. Kiss me on the fore- 
head.' 

Danvers put her lips to her mistress's forehead, and was 
asked: 'You still consider yourself attached to my 
fortunes ? ' 

'I do, ma'am, at home or abroad; and if you will take 
me with you . . . ' 

' Not for a week or so.' 

' I shall not be in the way, ma'am.' 

They played at shutting eyes. The petition of Danvers 
was declined; which taught her the more; and she was 
emboldened to say: 'Wherever my mistress goes, she 
ought to have her attendant with her.' There was no 
answer to it but the refusal. 

The hours crumbled slowly, each with a blow at the 
passages of retreat. Diana thought of herself as another 
person, whom she observed, not counselling her, because it 
was a creature visibly pushed by the Fates. In her own 
mind she could not perceive a stone of solidity anywhere, 
nor a face that had the appearance of our common life. 
She heard the cannon at intervals. The things she said 
set Danvers laughing, and she wondered at the woman's 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 287 

mingled mirth and stiffness. Five o'clock struck. Her 
letters were sent to the post. Her boxes were piled from 
stairs to door. She read the labels, for her good-bye to the 
hated name of Warwick : — why ever adopted ! Emma 
might well have questioned why ! Women are guilty of 
such unreasoning acts ! But this was the close to that 
chapter. The hour of six went by. Between six and 
seven came a sound of knocker and bell at the street-door. 
Danvers rushed into the sitting-room to announce that it 
was Mr. Redworth. Before a word could be mustered, 
Redworth was in the room. He said : ' You must come 
with me at once !' 



CHAPTER XXVI 

IN WHICH A DISAPPOINTED LOVER RECEIVES A MITLTITUDE 
OF LESSONS 

Dacier waited at the station, a good figure of a sentinel 
over his luggage and a spy for one among the inpouring 
passengers. Tickets had been confidently taken, the 
private division of the carriages happily secured. On 
board the boat she would be veiled. Landed on French 
soil, they threw off disguises, breasted the facts. And 
those ? They lightened. He smarted with his eagerness. 

He had come well in advance of the appointed time, for 
he would not have had her hang about there one minute 
alone. 

Strange as this adventure was to a man of prominent 
station before the world, and electrical as the turning- 
point of a destiny that he was given to weigh deliberately 
and far-sightedly, Diana's image strimg him to the pitch 
of it. He looked nowhere but ahead, like an archer put- 
ting hand for his arrow. 



288 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Presently he compared his watch and the terminus clock. 
She should now be arriving. He went out to meet her and 
do service. Many cabs and carriages were peered into, 
couples inspected, ladies and their maids, wives and their 
husbands — an August exodus to the Continent. Nowhere 
the starry she. But he had a fund of patience. She was 
now in some block of the streets. He was sure of her, sure 
of her courage. Tony and recreancy could not go together. 
Now that he called her Tony, she was his close comrade, 
known ; the name was a caress and a promise, breathing 
of her, as the rose of sweetest earth. He counted it to be 
a month ere his family would have wind of the altered 
position of his affairs, possibly a year to the day of his 
making the dear woman his own in the eyes of the world. 
She was dear past computation, womanly, yet quite unlike 
the womanish woman, unlike the semi-males courteously 
called dashing, unlike the sentimental. His present 
passion for her lineaments, declared her surpassingly 
beautiful, though his critical taste was rather for the white 
statue that gave no warmth. She had brains and ardour, 
she had grace and sweetness, a playful petulancy enliven- 
ing our atmosphere, and withal a refinement, a distinction, 
not to be classed ; and justly might she dislike the being 
classed. Her humour was a perennial refreshment, a 
running well, that caught all the colours of light ; her wit 
studded the heavens of the recollection of her. In his 
heart he felt that it was a stepping down for the brilliant 
woman to give him her hand ; a condescension and an act 
of valour. She who always led or prompted when they 
conversed, had now in her generosity abandoned the lead 
and herself to him, and she deserved his utmost honouring. 

But where was she? He looked at his watch, looked 
at the clock. They said the same : ten minutes to the 
moment of the train's departure. 

A man may still afford to dwell on the charms and merits 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 289 

of his heart's mistress while he has ten minutes to spare. 
The dropping minutes, however, detract one by one from 
her individuality and threaten to sink her in her sex 
entirely. It is the inexorable clock that says she is as other 
women. Dacier began to chafe. He was unaccustomed 
to the part he was performing : — ^and if she failed him ? 
She would not. She would be late, though. No, she was 
in time ! His long legs crossed the platform to overtake a 
tall lady veiled and dressed in black. He lifted his hat ; 
he heard an alarmed little cry and retired. The clock said, 
Five minutes : a secret chiromancy in addition indicating 
on its face the word Fool. An odd word to be cast at him ! 
It rocked the icy pillar of pride in the background of his 
nature. Certainly standing solus at the hour of eight p.m., 
he would stand for a fool. Hitherto he had never allowed 
a woman to chance to posture him in that character. He 
strode out, returned, scanned every lady's shape, and for a 
distraction watched the veiled lady whom he had accosted. 
Her figure suggested pleasant features. Either she was 
disappointed or she was an adept. At the shutting of the 
gates she glided through, not without a fearful look around 
and at him. She disappeared. Dacier shrugged. His 
novel assimilation to the rat-rabble of amatory intriguers 
tapped him on the shoulder unpleasantly. A luckless 
member of the fraternity too! The bell, the clock and 
the train gave him his title. 'And I was ready to fling 
down everything for the woman !' The trial of a superb 
London gentleman's resources in the love-passion could 
not have been much keener. No sign of her. 

He who stands ready to defy the world, and is baffled by 
the absence of his fair assistant, is the fool doubled, so 
completely the fool that he heads the universal shout ; he 
does not spare himself. The sole consolation he has is to 
revile the sex. Women ! women ! Whom have they not 
made a fool of ! His uncle as much as any — and professing 



290 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

to know them. Him also ! the man proud of escaping 
their wUes. 'For this woman . . . !' he went on saying 
after he had lost sight of her in her sex's trickeries. The 
nearest he could get to her was to conceive that the arrant 
coquette was now laughing at her utter subjugation and 
befooling of the man popularly supposed invincible. If it 
were known of him ! The idea of his being a puppet fixed 
for derision was madly distempering. He had only to ask 
the affirmative of Constance Asper to-morrow ! A vision 
of his determination to do it, somewhat comforted him. 

Dacier walked up and down the platform, passing his 
pUe of luggage, solitary and eloquent on the barrow. 
Never in his life having been made to look a fool, he felt 
the red heat of the thing, as a man who has not blessedly 
become acquainted with the swish in boyhood finds his; 
untempered blood turn to poison at a blow; he cannot, 
healthily take a licking. But then it had been so splendid 
an insanity when he urged Diana to fly with him. Any 
one but a woman would have appreciated the sacrifice. 

His luggage had to be removed. He dropped his porter 
a lordly fee and drove home. From that astonished soli- 
tude he strolled to his Club. Curiosity mastering the 
wrath it was mixed with, he left his Club and crossed the 
park southward in the direction of Diana's house, abusing 
her for her inveterate attachment to the regions of West- 
minster. There she used to receive Lord Dannisburgh ; 
innocently, no doubt — assuredly quite innocently; and 
her husband had quitted the district. Still it was rather 
childish for a woman to be always haunting the seats of 
Parliament. Her disposition to imagine that she was 
able to inspire statesmen came in for a share of ridicule ; 
for when we know ourselves to be ridiculous, a retort in 
kind, unjust upon consideration, is balm. The woman 
dragged him down to the level of common men ; that was 
the peculiar injury, and it swept her undistinguished into- 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 291 

the stream of women. In appearance, as he had proved 
to the fellows at his Club, he was perfectly self-possessed, 
mentally distracted and bitter, hating himself for it, 
snapping at the cause of it. She had not merely dis- 
appointed, she had slashed his high conceit of himself, 
curbed him at the first animal dash forward, and he 
champed the bit with the fury of a thwarted racer. 

Twice he passed her house. Of course no light was 
shown at her windows. They were scanned malignly. 

He held it due to her to call and inquire whether there 
was any truth in the report of Mrs. Warwick's illness. 
Mrs. Warwick ! She meant to keep the name. 

A maid-servant came to the door with a candle in her 
hand revealing red eyelids. She was not aware that her 
mistress was unwell. Her mistress had left home some 
time after six o'clock with a gentleman. She was unable 
to tell him the gentleman's name. William, the footman, 
had opened the door to him. Her mistress's maid Mrs. 
Danvers had gone to the Play — with William. She 
thought that Mrs. Danvers might know who the gentle- 
man was. The girl's eyelids blinked, and she turned 
aside. Dacier consoled her with a piece of gold, saying 
he would come and see Mrs. Danvers in the morning. 

His wrath was partially quieted by the new speculations 
offered up to it. He could not conjure a suspicion of 
treachery in Diana Warwick; and a treachery so foully 
cynical ! She had gone with a gentleman. He guessed on 
all sides ; he struck at walls, as in complete obscurity. 

The mystery of her conduct troubling his wits for the 
many hours was explained by Danvers. With a sympathy 
that she was at pains to show, she informed him that her 
mistress was not at all unwell, and related of how Mr. Red- 
worth had arrived just when her mistress was on the point 
of starting for Paris and the Continent ; because poor Lady 
Dunstane was this very day to imdergo an operation under 



292 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

the surgeons at Copsley, and she did not wish her mistress 
to be present, but Mr. Redworth thought her mistress 
ought to be there, and he had gone down thinking she was 
there, and then came back in hot haste to fetch her, and 
was just in time, as it happened, by two or three minutes. 

Dacier rewarded the sympathetic woman for her intelli- 
gence, which appeared to him to have shot so far as to 
require a bribe. Gratitude to the person soothing his 
unwontedly ruffled temper was the cause of the indiscre- 
tion in the amount he gave. 

It appeared to him that he ought to proceed to Copsley 
for tidings of Lady Dunstane. Thither he sped by the 
handy railway and a timely train. He reached the park- 
gates at three in the afternoon, telling his flyman to wait. 
As he advanced by short cuts over the grass, he studied 
the look of the rows of windows. She was within, and 
strangely to his clouded senses' she was no longer Tony, 
no longer the deceptive woman he could in justice abuse. 
He and she, so close to union, were divided. A hand 
resembling the palpable interposition of Fate had swept 
them asunder. Having the poorest right — ^not any — to 
reproach her, he was disarmed, he felt himself a miserable 
intruder; he summoned his passion to excuse him, and 
gained some unsatisfied repose of mind by contemplating 
its devoted sincerity; which roused an effort to feel for 
the sufferer — Diana "Warwick's friend. With the pair of 
surgeons named, the most eminent of their day, in attend- 
ance, the case must be serious. To vindicate the breaker 
of her pledge, his present plight likewise assured him of 
that, and nearing the house he adopted instinctively the 
funeral step and mood, just sensible of a novel smallness. 
For the fortifying testimony of his passion had to be put 
aside, he was obliged to disavow it for a simpler motive 
if he applied at the door. He stressed the motive, pro- 
duced the sentiment, and passed thus naturally into 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 293 

hypocrisy, as lovers precipitated by their blood among the 
crises of human conditions are often forced to do. He had 
come to inquire after Lady Dunstane. He remembered 
that it had struck him as a duty, on hearing of her danger- 
ous illness. 

The door opened before he touched the beU. Sir Lukin 
knocked against him and stared. 

'Ah! — ^who — ? — you?' he said, and took him by the 
arm and pressed him on along the gravel. 'Dacier, are 
you? Redworth 's in there. Come on a step, come! 
It 's the time for us to pray. Good God ! There 's 
mercy for sinners. If ever there was a man ! . . . But, 
oh, good God ! she 's in their hands this minute. My 
saint is under the knife.' 

Dacier was hurried forward by a powerful hand. ' They 
say it lasts about five minutes, four and a half — or more ! 
My God! When they turned me out of her room, she 
smiled to keep me calm. She said : "Dear husband" : — 
the veriest wretch and brutallest husband ever poor 
woman . . . and a sarat ! a saint on earth ! Emmy !' 
Tears burst from him. 

He pulled forth his watch and asked Dacier for the 
time. 

' A minute 's gone in a minute. It 's three minutes and 
a half. Come faster. They 're at their work ! It 's life 
or death. I 've had death about me. But for a woman ! 
and your wife! and that brave soul! She bears it so. 
Women are the bravest creatures afloat. If they make 
her shriek, it '11 be only if she thinks I 'm out of hearing. 
No : I see her. She bears it ! — ^They mayn't have begun 
yet. It may all be over ! Come into the wood. I must 
pray. I must go on my knees.' 

Two or three steps in the wood, at the mossed roots of 
a beech, he feU kneeling, muttering, exclaiming. 

The tempest of penitence closed with a blind look at his 



294 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

watch, which he left dangling. He had to talk to drug his 
thoughts. 

'And mind you/ said he, when he had rejoined Dacier 
and was pushing his arm again, rounding beneath the trees 
to a view of the house, 'for a man steeped in damnable 
iniquity ! She bears it all for me, because I begged her, 
for the chance of her living. It 's my doing — this knife ! 
Macpherson swears there is a chance. Thomson backs 
him. But they 're at her, cutting ! . . . The pain must 
be awful — the mere pain ! The gentlest creature ever 
drew breath ! And women fear blood — and her own ! — 
And a head ! She ought to have married the best man 

alive, not a ! I can't remember her once complaining of 

me — not once. A common donkey compared to her ! All 
I can do is to pray. And she knows the beast I am, and 
has forgiven me. There isn't a blessed text of Scripture 
that doesn't cry out in praise of her. And they cut and 
hack . . . !' He dropped his head. The vehement big 
man heaved, shuddering. His lips worked fast. 

'She is not alone with them, unsupported?' said 
Dacier. 

Sir Lukin moaned for relief. He caught his watch 
swinging and stared at it. 'What a good fellow you were 
to come ! Now 's the time to know your friends. There 's 
Diana Warwick, true as steel. Redworth came on her tip- 
toe for the Continent; he had only to mention . . . 
Emmy wanted to spare her. She would not have sent — 
wanted to spare her the sight. I offered to stand by . . . 
Chased me out. Diana Warwick's there : — worth fifty of 
me ! Dacier, I 've had my sword-blade tried by Indian 
horsemen, and I know what true as steel means. She 's 
there. And I know she shrinks from the sight of blood. 
My oath on it, she won't quiver a muscle ! Next to my 
wife, you may take my word for it, Dacier, Diana Warwick 
is the pick of living women. I could prove it. They go 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 295 

together. I could prove it over and over. She 's the 
loyallest woman anywhere. Her one error was that 
marriage of hers, and how she ever pitched herself into it, 
none of us can guess.' After a while, he said : ' Look at 
your watch.' 

' Nearly twenty minutes gone.' 

' Are they afraid to send out word ? It 's that window ! ' 
He covered his eyes, and muttered, sighed. He became 
abruptly composed in appearance. 'The worst of a black 
sheep like me is, I 'm such an infernal sinner, that Provi- 
dence ! . . . But both surgeons gave me their word of 
honour that there was a chance. A chance ! But it 's 

the end of me if Emmy Good God ! no ! the knife 's 

enough ; don't let her be killed ! It would be murder. 
Here am I talking ! I ought to be praying. I should 
have sent for the parson to help me ; I can't get the proper 
words — bellow like a rascal trooper stnmg up for the cat. 
It must be twenty-five minutes now. Who 's alive now !' 

Dacier thought of the Persian Queen crying for news of 
the slaughtered, with her mind on her lord and husband : 
'Who is not dead?' Diana exalted poets, and here was 
an example of the truth of one to natute, and of the poor 
husband's depth of feeling. They said not the same 
thing, but it was the same cry de profundis. 

He saw Redworth coming at a quick pace. 

Redworth raised his hand. Sir Lukin stopped. 'He 's 
waving !' 

'It 's good,' said Dacier. 

'Speak! are you sure?' 

'I judge by the look.' 

Redworth stepped unfalteringly. 

'It 's over, all well,' he said. He brushed his forehead 
and looked sharply cheerful. 

' My dear fellow ! my dear fellow !' Sir Lukin grasped 
pis hand. 'It's more than I deserve. Over? She has 



296 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 



borne it ! She would have gone to heaven and left me ! 

Is she safe?' 

'Doing well.' 

'Have you seen the surgeons?' 

'Mrs. Warwick.' 

'What did she say?' 

'A nod of the head.' 

'You saw her?' 

'She came to the stairs.' 

'Diana Warwick never lies. She wouldn't lie, not with 
a nod ! They 've saved Emmy — do you think?' 

'It looks well.' 

My girl has passed the worst of it?' 

'That 's over.' 

Sir Lukin gazed glassily. The necessity of his agony 
was to lean to the belief, at a beckoning, that Providence 
pardoned him, in tenderness for what would have been his 
loss. He realized it, and experienced a sudden calm : 
testifying to the positive pardon. 

'Now, look here, you two fellows, listen half a moment,' 
he addressed Redworth and Dacier; 'I've been the 
biggest scoundrel of a husband unhung, and married to a 
saint ; and if she 's only saved to me, I '11 swear to serve 
her faithfully, or may a thunderbolt knock me to per- 
dition! and thank God for his justice! Prayers are 
answered, mind you, though a fellow may be as black 
as a sweep. Take a warning from me. I 've had my 
lesson.' 

Dacier soon after talked of going. The hope of seeing 
Diana had abandoned him, the desire was almost extinct. 

Sir Lukin could not let him go. He yearned to preach 
to him or any one from his personal text of the sinner 
honourably remorseful on account of and notwithstahding 
the forgiveness of Providence, and he implored Dacier and 
Redworth by turns to be careful when they married of 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 297 

how they behaved to the sainted women their wives; 
never to lend ear to the devil, nor to believe, as he had done, 
that there is no such thing as a devil, for he had been the 
victim of him, and he knew. The devU, he loudly pro- 
claimed, has a multiplicity of lures, and none more deadly 
than when he baits with a petticoat. He had been hooked, 
and had found the devil in person. He begged them 
urgently to keep his example in memory. By following 
this and that wildfire he had stuck himself in a bog — a 
common result with those who would not see the devil at 
work upon them ; and it required his dear suffering saint 
to be at death's doors, cut to pieces and gasping, to cpen 
his eyes. But, thank heaven, they were opened at last ! 
Now he saw the beast he was : a filthy beast ! unworthy 
of tying his wife's shoestring. No confessions could ex- 
pose to them the beast he was. But let them not fancy 
there was no such thing as an active Devil about the 
world. 

Redworth divined that the simply sensational man 
abased himself before Providence and heaped his gratitude 
on the awful Power in order to render it difficult for the 
promise of the safety of his wife to be withdrawn. 

He said: 'There is good hope'; and drew an admoni- 
tion upon himself. 

'Ah ! my dear good Redworth,' Sir Lukin sighed from 
his elevation of outspoken penitence : ' you will see as I 
do some day. It is the devU, think as you like of it. 
When you have pulled down all the Institutions of the 
Country, what do you expect but ruins? That Radical- 
ism of yours has its day. You have to go through a 
wrestle like mine to understand it. You say, the day is 
fine, let 's have our game. Old England pays for it ! 
Then you '11 find how you love the old land of your birth 
— the noblest ever called a nation ! — with your Corn Law 
Repeals! — eh, Dacier? — ^You'll own it was the devil 



298 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

tempted you. I hear you apologizing. Pray God, it 
mayn't be too late !' 

He looked up at the windows. 'She may be sinking !' 

'Have no fears,' Redworth said; 'Mrs. Warwick 
would send for you.' 

'She would. Diana Warwick would be sure to send,- 
Next to my wife, Diana Warwick 's . . . she 'd send, 
never fear. I dread that room. I 'd rather go through a 
regiment of sabres — though it 's over now. And Diana 
Warwick stood it. The worst is over, you told me. By 
heaven ! women are wonderful creatures. But she hasn't 
a peer for courage. I could trust her — most extraordin- 
ary thing, that marriage of hers ! — not a soul has ever 
been able to explain it : — ^trust her to the death.' 

Redworth left them, and Sir Lukin ejaculated on the 
merits of Diana Warwick to Dacier. He laughed scorn- 
fully : ' And that 's the woman the world attacks for want 
of virtue ! Why, a fellow hasn't a chance with her, not a 
chance. She comes out in blazing armour if you unmask a 
battery. I don't know how it might be if she were in love 
with a fellow. I doubt her thinking men worth the 
trouble. I never met the man. But if she were to take 
fire, Troy 'd be nothing to it. I wonder whether we might 
go in : I dread the house.' 

Dacier spoke of departing. 

'No, no, wait,' Sir Lukin begged him. 'I was talking 
about women. They are the devil — or he makes most use 
of them : and you must learn to see the cloven foot under 
their petticoats, if you 're to escape them. There 's no 
protection in being in love with your wife ; I married for 
love ; I am, I always have been, in love with her ; and I 
went to the deuce. The music struck up and away I 
waltzed. A woman like Diana Warwick might keep a 
fellow straight, because she 's all round you ; she 's man 
and woman in brains ; and legged like a deer, and breasted 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 299 

like a swan, and a regular sheaf of arrows in her eyes. 
Dark women — ah ! But she has a contempt for us, you 
know. That 's the secret of her. — Redworth 's at the 
door. Bad? Is it bad? I never was particularly fond 
of that house — ^hated it. I love it now for Emmy's sake. 
I couldn't live in another — though I should be haunted. 
Rather her ghost than nothing — ^though I 'm an infernal 
coward about the next world. But if you 're right with 
religion you needn't fear. What I can't comprehend in 
Redworth is his Radicalism, and getting richer and 
richer.' 

' It 's not a vow of poverty,' said Dacier. 

' He '11 find they don't coalesce, or his children will. 
Once the masses are uppermost ! It 's a bad day, Dacier, 
when we 've no more gentlemen in the land. Emmy 
backs him, so I hold my tongue. To-morrow 's a Sunday. 
I wish you were staying here ; I 'd take you to church 
with me — ^we shirk it when we haven't a care. It couldn't 
do you harm. I 've heard capital sermons. I 've always 
had the good habit of going to church, Dacier. Now 's 
the time for remembering them. Ah, my dear fellow, I 'm 
not a parson. It would have been better for me if I had 
been.' 

And for you too ! his look added plainly. He longed to 
preach ; he was impelled to chatter. 

Redworth reported the patient perfectly quiet, breath- 
ing calmly. 

'Laudanum?' asked Sir Lukin. 'Now there's a 
poison we 've got to bless ! And we set up in our wisdom 
for knowing what is good for us !' 

He had talked his hearers into a stupefied assent to 
anything he uttered. 

'Mrs. Warwick would like to see you in two or three 
minutes ; she will come down,' Redworth said to Dacier. 
. 'That looks well, eh? That looks bravely,' Sir Lukin 



300 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

cried. 'Diana Warwick wouldn't leave the room without 
a certainty. I dread the look of those men ; I shall have 
to shake their hands! And so I do, with all my heart : 
only — But God bless them ! But we must go in, if 
she 's coming down.' 

They entered the house, and sat in the drawing-room, 
where Sir Lukin took up from the table one of his wife's 
Latin books, a Persius, bearing her marginal notes. He 
dropped his head on it, with sobs. 

The voice of Diana recalled him to the present. She 
counselled him to control himself ; in that case he might 
for one moment go to the chamber-door and assure him- 
self by the silence that his wife was resting. She brought 
permission from the surgeons and doctor, on his promise 
to be still. 

Redworth supported Sir Lukin tottering out. 

Dacier had risen. He was petrified by Diana's face, 
and thought of her as whirled from him in a storm, bear- 
ing the marks of it. Her underlip hung for short breaths ; 
the big drops of her recent anguish still gathered on her 
brows; her eyes were tearless, lustreless; she looked 
ancient in youth, and distant by a century, like a tall 
woman of the vaults, issuing white-ringed, not of our 
light. 

She shut her mouth for strength to speak to him. 

He said : ' You are not ill ? You are strong ? ' 

'I? Oh, strong. I will sit. I cannot be absent 
longer than two minutes. The trial of her strength is to 
come. If it were courage, we might be sure. The day is 
fine?' 

'A perfect August day.' 

'I held her through it. I am thankful to heaven it was 
no other hand than mine. She wished to spare me. She 
was glad of her Tony when the time came. I thought I 
was a coward — I could have changed with her to save her; 



A DISAPPOINTED LOVER 301 

I am a strong woman, fit to submit to that work. I 
should not have borne it as she did. She expected to sink 
under it. All her dispositions were made for death — be- 
quests to servants and to ... to friends : every secret 
liking they had, thought of !' 

Diana clenched her hands. 

'I hope !' Dacier said. 

'You shall hear regularly. Call at Sir WUliam's house 
to-morrow. He sleeps here to-night. The suspense must 
last for days. It is a question of vital power to bear the 
shock. She has a mind so like a flying spirit that, just 
before the moment, she made Mr. Lanyan Thomson smile 
by quoting some saying of her Tony's.' 

'Try by-and-by to recollect it,' said Dacier. 

'And you were with that poor man ! How did he pass 
the terrible time? I pitied him.' 

'He suffered; he prayed.' 

'It was the best he could do. Mr. Redworth was as he 
always is at the trial, a pillar. Happy the friend who 
knows him for one ! He never thinks of himself in a crisis. 
He is sheer strength to comfort and aid. They will drive 
you to the station with Mr. Thomson. He returns to re- 
lieve Sir William to-morrow. I have learnt to admire the 
men of the knife! No profession equals theirs in self- 
command and beneficence. Dr. Bridgenorth is permanent 
here.' 

'I have a fly, and go back immediately,' said Dacier. 

'She shaU hear of your coming. Adieu.' 

Diana gave him her hand. It was gently pressed. 

A wonderment at the utter change of circumstances 
took Dacier passingly at the sight of her vanishing figure. 

He left the house, feeling he dared have no personal 
wishes. It had ceased to be the lover's hypocrisy with him. 

The crisis of mortal peril in that house enveloped its 
Inmates, and so wrought in him as to enshroud the stripped 



302 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

outcrying hxisband, of whom he had no clear recollection, 
save of the man's agony. The two women, striving 
against death, devoted in friendship, were the sole living 
images he brought away; they were a new vision of the 
world and our life. 

He hoped with Diana, bled with her. She rose above 
him high, beyond his transient human claims. He envied 
Redworth the common friendly right to be near her. In 
reflection, long after, her simplicity of speech, washed pure 
of the blood-emotions, for token of her great nature, 
during those two minutes of their sitting together, was 
dearer, sweeter to the lover than if she had shown by 
touch or word that a faint allusion to their severance was 
in her mind ; and this despite a certain vacancy it created. 

He received formal information of Lady Dunstane's. 
progress to convalescence. By degrees the simply official 
tone of Diana's letters combined with the ceasing of them 
and the absence of her personal charm to make a gentle- 
man not remarkable for violence in the passion so calmly 
reasonable as to think the dangerous presence best avoided 
for a time. Subject to fits of the passion, he certainly was, 
but his position in the world was a counselling spouse, 
jealous of his good name. He did not regret his proposal 
to take the leap ; he would not have regretted it if taken. 
On the safe side of the abyss, however, it wore a gruesome- 
look to his cool blood. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

CONTAINS MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 

Among the various letters inundating Sir Lukin Dun- 
stane upon the report of the triumph of surgical skill 
achieved by Sir William Macpherson and Mr. Lanyan 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 303 

Thomson, was one from Lady Wathin, dated Adlands, 
an estate of Mr. Quintin Manx's in Warwickshire, peti- 
tioning for the shortest Hne of reassurance as to the con- 
dition of her dear cousin, and an intimation of the period 
when it might be deemed possible for a relative to call and 
offer her sincere congratulations : a letter deserving a 
personal reply, one would suppose. She received the 
following, in a succinct female hand corresponding to its 
terseness; every t righteously crossed, every i punctili- 
ously dotted, as she remarked to Constance Asper, to 
whom the communication was transferred for perusal : — 

'Deab Lady Wathin, — Lady Dunstane is gaining 
strength. The measure of her pulse indicates favourably. 
She shall be informed in good time of your solicitude for 
her recovery. The day cannot yet be named for visits of 
any kind. You will receive information as soon as the 
house is open. 

' I have undertaken the task of correspondence, and beg 
you to believe me, 

'Very truly yours, 

'D. A. Warwick.' 

Miss Asper speculated on the handwriting of her rival. 
She obtained permission to keep the letter, with the in- 
tention of transmitting it per post to an advertising 
interpreter of character in caligraphy. 

Such was the character of the fair young heiress, ex- 
hibited by her performances much more patently than the 
run of a quill would reveal it. 

She said, ' It is rather a pretty hand, I think.' 

'Mrs. Warwick is a practised writer,' said Lady Wathin. 
'Writing is her profession, if she has any. She goes to 
nurse my cousin. Her husband says she is an excellent 
nurse. He says what he can for her. But you must be 
in the last extremity, or she is ice. His appeal to her 



304 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

has been totally disregarded. Until he drops down in 
the street, as his doctor expects him to do some day, 
she will continue her course; and even then . . .' 
An adventuress desiring her freedom ! Lady Wathin 
looked. She was too devout a woman to say what she 
thought. But she knew the world to be very wicked. Of 
Mrs. Warwick, her opinion was formed. She would not 
have charged the individual creature with a criminal 
design; all she did was to stuff the person her virtue 
abhorred with the wickedness of the world, and that is a 
common process in antipathy. 

She sympathized, moreover, with the beautiful devoted- 
ness of the wealthy heiress to her ideal of man. It had 
led her to make the acquaintance of old Lady Dacier, at 
the house in town, where Constance Asper had first met 
Percy; Mrs. Grafton Winstanley's house, representing 
neutral territory or debateable land for the occasional 
intercourse of the upper class and the climbing in the 
professions or in commerce; Mrs. Grafton Winstanley 
being on the edge of aristocracy by birth, her husband, 
like Mr. Quintin Manx, a lord of fleets. Old Lady Dacier's 
bluntness in speaking of her grandson would have shocked 
Lady Wathin as much as it astonished, had she been less 
of an ardent absorber of aristocratic manners. Percy was 
plainly called a donkey, for hanging off and on with a 
handsome girl of such expectations as Miss Asper. 'But 
what you can't do with a horse, you can't hope to do with 
a donkey.' She added that she had come for the pur- 
pose of seeing the heiress, of whose points of person she 
delivered a judgement critically appreciative as a horse- 
fancier's on the racing turf. 'If a girl like that holds to 
it, she 's pretty sure to get him at last. It 's no use to 
pull his neck down to the water.' 

Lady Wathin delicately alluded to rumours of an 
entanglement, an admiration he had, ahem. 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 305 

'A married woman/ the veteran nodded. 'I thought 
that was off ? She must be a clever intriguer to keep him 
so long.' 

'She is undoubtedly clever,' said Lady Wathin, and it 
was mimibled in her hearing : 'The woman seems to have 
a taste for our family.' 

They agreed that they could see nothing to be done. 
The young lady must wither, Mrs. Warwick have 
her day. The veteran confided her experienced why 
to Lady Wathin: 'All the tales you tell of a 
woman of that sort are sharp sauce to the palates of 
men.' 

They might be, to the men of the dreadful gilded idle 
class ! 

Mrs. Warwick's day appeared indefinitely prolonged, 
judging by Percy Dacier's behaviour to Miss Asper. 
Lady Wathin watched them narrowly when she had the 
chance, a little ashamed of her sex, or indignant rather at 
his display of courtliness in exchange for her open be- 
trayal of her preference. It was almost to be wished that 
she would punish him by sacrificing herself to one of her 
many brilliant proposals of marriage. But such are 
women! — ^precisely because of his holding back he 
tightened the cord attaching him to her tenacious heart. 
This was the truth. For the rest, he was gracefully 
courteous; an observer could perceive the charm he 
exercised. He talked with a ready affability, latterly with 
greater social ease; evidently not acting the indifferent 
conqueror, or so consummately acting it as to mask the 
air. And yet he was ambitious, and he was not rich. 
Notoriously was he ambitious, and with wealth to back 
him, a great entertaining house, troops of adherents, he 
would gather influence, be propelled to leadership. The 
vexation of a constant itch to speak to him on the subject, 
and the recognition that he knew it all as well as she, 



306 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

tormented Lady Wathin. He gave her comforting news 
of her dear cousin in the Winter. 

'You have heard from Mrs. Warwick?' she said. 

Jle replied, 'I had the latest from Mr. Redworth.' 

'Mrs. Warwick has relinquished her post?' 

'When she does, .you may be sure that Lady Dunstane 
is perfectly re-established.' 

'She is an excellent nurse.' 

'The best, I believe.' 

'It is a good quality in sickness.' 

'Proof of good all through.' 

'Her husband might have the advantage of it. His 
state is really pathetic. If she has feeling, and could 
only be made aware, she might perhaps be persuaded to 
pass from the friendly to the wifely duty.' 

Mr. Dacier bent his head to listen, and he bowed. 

He was fast in the toils ; and though we have assurance 
that evil caimot triumph in perpetuity, the aspect of it 
throning provokes a kind of despair. How strange if 
ultimately the lawyers once busy about the uncle were 
to take up the case of the nephew, and this time reverse 
the issue, by proving it ! For poor Mr. Warwick was 
emphatic on the question of his honour. It excited him 
dangerously. He was long-suffering, but with the slight- 
est clue terrible. The unknotting of the entanglement 
might thus happen: — ^and Constance Asper would wel- 
come her hero still. 

MeanwhOe there was actually nothing to be done: a 
deplorable absence of motive villainy; apparently an 
absence of the beneficent Power directing events to their 
proper termination. Lady Wathin heard of her cousin's 
having been removed to Cowes in May, for light Solent 
and Channel voyages on board Lord Esquart's yacht. 
She heard also of heavy failures and convulsions in the 
City of London, quite unconscious that the Fates, or 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 307 

agents of the Providence she invoked to precipitate the 
catastrophe, were then beginning cavemously their per- 
formance of the part of villain in Diana's history. 

Diana and Emma enjoyed happy quiet sailings under 
May breezes on the many-coloured South-western waters, 
heart in heart again; the physical weakness of the one, 
the moral weakness of the other, creating that mutual 
dependency which makes friendship a pulsating tie. 
Diana's confession had come of her letter to Emma. 
When the latter was able to examine her correspondence, 
Diana brought her the heap for perusal, her own sealed 
scribble, throbbing with all the fatal might-have-been, 
under her eyes. She could have concealed and destroyed 
it. She sat beside her friend, awaiting her turn, hearing 
her say at the superscription: 'Your writing, Tony?' 
and she nodded. She was asked: 'Shall I read it?' 
She answered: 'Read.' They were soon locked in an 
embrace. Emma had no perception of coldness through 
those brief dry lines ; her thought was of the matter. 

'The danger is over now?' she said. 

'Yes, that danger is over now.' 

'You have weathered it?' 

'I love him.' 

Emma dropped a heavy sigh in pity of her, remotely in 
compassion for Redworth, the loving and unbeloved. 
She was too humane and wise of our nature to chide her 
Tony for having her sex's heart. She had charity to 
bestow on women; in defence of them against men and 
the world, it was a charity armed with the weapons of 
battle. The wife madly stripped before the world by a 
jealous hxisband, and left chained to the rock, her youth 
wasting, her blood arrested, her sensibilities chilled and 
assailing her under their multitudinous disguises, and for 
whom the world is merciless, called forth Emma's ten- 
derest commiseration; and that wife being Tony, and 



308 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

stricken with the curse of love, in other circumstances 
the blessing, Emma bled for her. 

'But nothing desperate?' she said. 

'No; you have saved me.' 

'I would knock at death's doors again, and pass them, 
to be sure of that.' 

' Kiss me ; you may be sure. I would not put my lips 
to your cheek if there were danger of my faltering.' 

'But you love him.' 

'I do: and because I love him I will not let him be 
fettered to me.' 

'You will see him.' 

'Do not imagine that his persuasions undermined your 
Tony. I am subject to panics.' 

'Was it your husband?' 

'I had a visit from Lady Wathin. She knows him. 
She came as peacemaker. She managed to hint at his 
authority. Then came a letter from him — of supplica- 
tion, interpenetrated with the hint : a suffused atmos- 
phere. Upon that, xmexpected by me, my — ^let me call 
him so once, forgive me ! — Clover came. Oh ! he loves 
me, or did then. Percy! He had been told that I 
should be claimed. I felt myself the creature I am — a 
wreck of marriage. But I fancied I could serve him : — I 
saw golden. My vanity was the chief traitor. Cowardice 
of course played a part. In few things that we do, where 
self is concerned, will cowardice not be found. And the 
hallucination colours it to seem a lovely heroism. That 
was the second time Mr. Redworth arrived. I am always 
at crossways, and he rescues me; on this occasion im- 
knowingly.' 

' There 's a divinity . . .' said Emma. 'When I think 
of it I perceive that Patience is our beneficent fairy 
godmother, who brings us our harvest in the long 
result.' 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 309 

'My dear, does she bring us our labourers' rations, to 
sustain us for the day?' said Diana. 

'Poor fare, but enough.' 

' I fear I was born godmotherless.' 

'You have stores of patience, Tony; only now and 
then fits of desperation.' 

' My nature's frailty, the gap in it : we will give it no 
fine names — ^they cover oxir pitfalls. I am open to be 
carried on a tide of unreasonableness when the coward 
cries out. But I can say, dear, that after one rescue, a 
similar temptation is imlikely to master me. I do not 
subscribe to the world's decrees for love of the monster, 
though I am beginning to understand the dues of alle- 
giance. We have ceased to write letters. You may have 
faith in me.' 

'I have, with my whole soul,' said Emma. 

So the confession closed; and in the present instance 
there were not any forgotten chambers to be imlocked 
and ransacked for addenda confessions. 

The subjects discoursed of by the two endeared the 
hours to them. They were aware that the English of the 
period would have laughed a couple of women to scorn 
for venturing on them, and they were not a little hostile 
in consequence, and shot their epigrams profusely, ap- 
plauding the keener that appeared to score the giant bulk 
of their intolerant enemy, who holds the day, but not the 
morrow. Us too he holds for the day, to punish us if we 
have temporal cravings. He scatters his gifts to the 
abject; tossing to us rebels bare dog-biscuit. But the 
life of the spirit is beyond his region ; we have our morrow 
in his day when we crave nought of him. Diana and 
Emma delighted to discover that they were each the 
rebel of their earlier and less experienced years, each a 
member of the malcontent minor faction, the salt of 
.earth, to whom their salt must serve for nourishment, 



310 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

as they admitted, relishing it determinedly, not with- 
out gratification. 

Sir Lukin was busy upon his estate in Scotland. They 
summoned young Arthur Rhodes to the island, that he 
might have a taste of the new scenes. Diana was always 
wishing for his instruction and refreshment; and Red- 
worth came to spend a Saturday and Sunday with them, 
and showed his disgust of the idle boy, as usual, at the 
same time consulting them on the topic of furniture for 
the Berkshire mansion he had recently bought, rather 
vaunting the Spanish pictures his commissioner in Madrid 
was transmitting. The pair of rebels, vexed by his treat- 
ment of the respectful junior, took him for an incarnation 
of their enemy, and pecked and worried the man aston- 
ishingly. He submitted to it like the placable giant. 
Yes, he was a Liberal, and furnishing and decorating the 
house in the stability of which he trusted. Why not? 
We must accept the world as it is, try to improve it by 
degrees. — Not so : humanity will not wait for you, the 
victims are shrieking beneath the bricks of your enor- 
mous edifice, behind the canvas of your pictures. 'But 
you may really say that luxurious yachting is an odd kind 
of insurgency,' avowed Diana. ' It 's the tangle we 
are in.' 

'It 's the coat we have to wear; and why fret at it for 
being comfortable?' 

' I don't half enough, ■ when I think of my shivering 
neighbours.' 

'Money is of course a rough test of virtue,' said Red- 
worth. 'We have no other general test.' 

Money! The ladies proclaimed it a mere material 
test ; Diana, gazing on sunny sea, with an especial disdain. 
And name us your sort of virtue. There is more virtue 
in poverty. He denied that. Inflexibly British, he de- 
clared money, and also the art of getting money, to be 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 311 

hereditary virtues, deserving of their reward. The re- 
ward a superior wealth and its fruits? Yes, the power 
to enjoy and spread enjoyment: and let idleness envy 
both ! He abused idleness, and by implication the 
dilettante insurgency fostering it. However, he was 
compensatingly heterodox in his view of the Law's perse- 
cution of women ; their pertinacious harpings on the theme 
had brought him to that; and in consideration of the 
fact, as they looked from yacht to shore, of their being 
rebels participating largely in the pleasures of the tyrant's 
court, they allowed him to silence them, and forgave him. 
Thoughts upon money and idleness were in confusion 
with Diana. She had a household to support in London, 
and she was not working; she could not touch The 
Cantateice while Emma was near. Possibly, she again 
ejaculated, the Redworths of the world were right : the 
fruitful labours were with the mattock and hoe, or the 
mind directing them. It was a crushing invasion of mate- 
rialism, so she proposed a sail to the coast of France, and 
thither they flew, touching Cherbourg, Aldemey, Sark, 
Guernsey, and sighting the low Brittany rocks. Memor- 
able days to Arthur Rhodes. He saw perpetually the 
one golden centre in new scenes. He heard her voice, he 
treasured her sa3dngs ; her gestures, her play of lip and 
eyelid, her lift of head, lightest movements, were imprinted 
on him, surely as the heavens are mirrored in the quiet 
seas, firmly and richly as earth answers to the sprinkled 
grain. For he was blissfully athirst, untroubled by a 
hope. She gave him more than she knew of : a present 
that kept its beating heart into the future; a height of 
sky, a belief in nobility, permanent through manhood 
down to age. She was his foam-bom Goddess of those 
leaping waters; differently hued, crescented, a different 
influence. He had a happy week, and it charmed Diana 
to hear him tell her so. In spite of Redworth, she had 



312 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

faith in the fruit-bearing powers of a time of simple happi- 
ness, and shared the youth's in reflecting it. Only the 
happiness must be simple, that of the glass to the lovely 
face: no straining of arms to retain, no heaving of the 
bosom in vacancy. 

His poverty and capacity for pure enjoyment led her to 
think of him almost clingingly when hard news reached 
her from the quaint old City of London, which despises 
poverty and authorcraft and all mean adventurers, and 
bows to the lordly merchant, the mighty financier, Red- 
worth's incarnation of the virtues. Happy days on board 
the yacht Clarissa ! Diana had to recall them with effort. 
They who sow their money for a promising high percent- 
age have built their habitations on the sides of the most 
eruptive mountain in Europe. ..Etna supplies more 
certain harvests, wrecks fewer vineyards and peaceful 
dwellings. The greed of gain is our volcano. Her 
wonder leapt up at the slight inducement she had received 
to embark her money in this Company : a South- American 
mine, collapsed almost within hearing of the trumpets of 
prospectus, after two punctual payments of the half- 
yearly interest. A Mrs. Ferdinand Cherson, an elder 
sister of the pretty Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett, had talked to her 
of the cost of things one afternoon at Lady Singleby's 
garden-party, and spoken of the City as the place to help 
to swell an income, if only you have an acquaintance with 
some of the chief City men. The great mine was named, 
and the rush for allotments. She knew a couple of the 
Directors. They vowed to her that ten per cent, was a 
trifle; the fortune to be expected out of the mine was 
already clearly estimable at forties and fifties. For their 
part they anticipated cent, per cent. Mrs. Cherson said 
she wanted money, and had therefore invested in the 
mine. It seemed so consequent, the cost of things being 
enormous ! She and her sister Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 313 

owned husbands who did their bidding, because of their 
having the brains, it might be understood. Thus five 
thousand pounds invested would speedily bring five 
thousand pounds per annum. Diana had often dreamed 
of the City of London as the seat of magic ; and taking 
the City's contempt for authorcraft and the intangible as, 
from its point of view, justly founded, she had mixed her 
dream strangely with an ancient notion of the City's 
probity. Her broker's shaking head did not damp her 
ardour for shares to the full amount of her ability to 
purchase. She remembered her satisfaction at the allot- 
ment ; the golden castle shot up from this fountain mine. 
She had a frenzy for mines and fished ia some English 
with smaller sums. 'I am now a miuer,' she had ex- 
claimed, between dismay at her audacity and the pride of 
it. Why had she not consulted Redworth? He would 
peremptorily have stopped the frenzy in its first iatoxi- 
cating effervescence. She, like Mrs. Cherson, like all 
women who have plimged upon the cost of things, wanted 
money. She naturally went to the mine. Address him 
for counsel in the person of dupe, she could not ; shame 
was a barrier. Could she tell him that the prattle of a 
woman, spendthrift as Mrs. Cherson, had induced her to 
risk her money? Latterly the reports of Mrs. Fryar- 
Guimett were not of the flavour to make association of 
their names agreeable to his hearing. 

She had to sit down in the buzz of her self-reproaches 
and amazement at the behaviotir of that reputable City, 
shrug, and recommence the labour of her pen. Material 
misfortune had this one advantage; it kept her from 
speculative thoughts of her lover, and the meaning of his 
absence and silence. 

Diana's perusal of the incomplete Cantateice was done 
with the cold critical eye interpreting for the public. She 
was forced to write on nevertheless, and exactly in the 



314 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

ruts of the foregoing matter. It propelled her. No 
longer perversely, of necessity she wrote her best, con- 
vinced that the work was doomed to unpopularity, re- 
solved that it should be at least a victory in style. A fit 
of angry cynicism now and then set her composing phrases 
as baits for the critics to quote, condemnatory of the 
attractiveness of the work. Her mood was bad. In 
addition, she found Whitmonby cool; he complained of 
the coolness of her letter of adieu; complained of her 
leaving London so long. How could she expect to be 
his Queen of the London Salon if she lost touch of the 
topics ? He made no other allusion. They were soon on 
amicable terms, at the expense of flattering arts that she 
had not hitherto practised. But Westlake revealed un- 
imagined marvels of the odd comers of the masculine 
bosom. He was the man of her circle the neatest in 
epigram, the widest of survey, an Oriental traveller, a 
distinguished writer, and if not personally bewitching, 
remarkably a gentleman of the world. He was wounded ; 
he said as much. It came to this : admitting that he 
had no claims, he declared it to be unbearable for him to 
see another preferred. The happier was unmentioned, and 
Diana scraped his wound by rallying him. He repeated 
that he asked only to stand on equal terms with the 
others; her preference of one was past his tolerance. 
She told him that since leaving Lady Dunstane she had 
seen but Whitmonby, Wilmers, and him. He smiled 
sarcastically, saying he had never had a letter from her, 
except the formal one of invitation. 

'Powers of blarney, have you forsaken a daughter of 
Erin?' cried Diana. 'Here is a friend who has a crav- 
ing for you, and I talk sense to him. I have written to 
none of my set since I last left London.' 

She pacified him by doses of cajolery new to her tongue. 
She liked him, abhorred the thought of losing any of her 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 315 

friends, so the cajoling sentences ran until Westlake be- 
trayed an inflammable composition, and had to be put 
out, and smoked sullenly. Her resources were tried in 
restoring him to reason. The months of absence from 
London appeared to have transformed her world. Tonans 
was moderate. The great editor rebuked her for her 
prolonged absence from London, not so much because it 
discrowned her as Queen of the Salon, but candidly for 
its rendering her service less to him. Everything she 
knew of men and affairs was to him stale. 

' How do you get to the secrets ? ' she asked. 

'By sticking to the centre of them,' he said. 

'But how do you manage to be in advance and act the 
prophet ? ' 

'Because I will have them at any price, and that is 
known.' 

She hinted at the peccant City Company. 

'I think I have checked the mining mania, as I did 
the railway,' said he; "and so far it was a public service. 
There 's no checking of maniacs.' 

She took her whipping within and without. 'On 
another occasion I shall apply to you, Mr. Tonans.' 

'Ah, there was a time when you could have been a 
treasure to me,' he rejoined; alluding of course to the 
Dannisburgh days. 

In dejection, as she mused on those days, and on her 
foolish ambition to have a London house where her light 
might bum, she advised herself, with Redworth's voice, to 
quit the house, arrest expenditure, and try for happiness 
by burning and shining in the spirit : devoting herself, as 
Arthur Rhodes did, purely to literature. It became 
almost a decision. 

Percy she had still neither written to nor heard from, 
and she dared not hope to meet him. She fancied a wish 
to have tidings of his marriage : it would be peace, if in 



316 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

desolation. Now that she had confessed and given her 
pledge to Emma, she had so far broken with him as to 
render the holding him chained a cruelty, and his reserve 
whispered of a rational acceptance of the end between 
them. She thanked him for it ; an act whereby she wa& 
instantly melted to such softness that a dread of him 
haunted her. Coward, take up your burden for armour ! 
she called to her poor dungeoned self wailing to have 
common nourishment. She knew how prodigiously it 
waxed on crumbs; nay, on the imagination of small 
morsels. By way of chastizing it, she reviewed her life, 
her behaviour to her husband, until she sank backward 
to a depth deprived of air and light. That life with her 
husband was a dungeon to her nature deeper than any 
imposed by present conditions. She was then 'a revolu- 
tionary to reach to the breath of day. She had now to be 
only not a coward, and she could breathe as others did. 
'Women who sap the moral laws pull down the pillars of 
the temple on their sex,' Emma had said. Diana per- 
ceived something of her personal debt to civilization. Her 
struggles passed into the doomed Cantateicb occupying 
days and nights under pressure for immediate payment ; 
the silencing of friend Debit, ridiculously calling himself 
Credit, in contempt of sex and conduct, on the ground 
that he was he solely by virtue of being she. He had got 
a trick of singing operatic solos in the form and style of 
the delightful tenor Tellio, and they were touching in 
absurdity, most real in unreality. Exquisitely trilled,, 
after Tellio's manner, 

' The tradesmen all beseech ye, 

The landlord, cook and maid, 
Complete The Cantatkice, 
That they may soon be paid.' 

provoked her to laughter in pathos. He approached,. 



MATTER FOR SUBSEQUENT EXPLOSION 317 

posturing himself operatically, with perpetual new verses, 
rhymes to Danvers, rhymes to Madame SybUle, the cook. 
Seeing Tellio at one of Henry Wilmers' private concerts, 
Diana's lips twitched to dimples at the likeness her 
familiar had assmned. She had to compose her coun- 
tenance to talk to him ; but the moment of song was the 
trial. Lady Singleby sat beside her, and remarked : 
^You have always fun going on in you!' She partook 
of the general impression that Diana Warwick was too 
humorous to nurse a downright passion. 

Before leaving, she engaged Diana to her annual garden- 
party of the closing season, and there the meeting with 
Percy occurred, not unobserved. Had they been over- 
heard, very little to implicate them would have been 
gathered. He walked in full view across the lawn to her, 
and they presented mask to mask. 

' The beauty of the day tempts you at last, Mrs. Warwick.' 

'I have been finishing a piece of work.' 

Lovely weather, beautiful dresses : agreed. Diana wore 
a yellow robe with a black bonnet, and he commented on 
the becoming hues; for the first time, he noticed her 
dress ! Lovely women ? Dacier hesitated. One he saw. 
But surely he must admire Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett ? And 
who steps beside her, transparently fascinated, with 
visage at three-quarters to the rays withia her bonnet? 
Can it be Sir Lukin Dunstane? and beholding none but 
his charmer! 

Dacier withdrew his eyes thoughtfully from the spec- 
tacle, and moved to woo Diana to a stroll. She could not 
restrain her feet ; she was out of the ring of her courtiers 
for the moment. He had seized his opportunity. 

'It is nearly a year !' he said. 

'I have been nursing nearly all the time, doing the 
work I do best.' 

'Unaltered?' 



318 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'A year must leave its marks.' 

'Tony!' 

'You speak of a madwoman, a good eleven months 
dead. Let her rest. Those are the conditions.' 

'Accepted, if I may see her.' 

'Honestly accepted?' 

'Imposed fatally, I have to own. I have felt with 
you : you are the wiser. But, admitting that, surely we 
can meet. I may see you?' 

'My house has not been shut.' 

'I respected the house. I distrusted myself.' 

'What restores your confidence?' 

'The strength I draw from you.' 

One of the Beauties at a garden-party is lucky to get as 
many minutes as had passed in quietness. Diana was met 
and captured. But those last words of Percy's renewed 
her pride in him by suddenly building a firm faith in her- 
self. Noblest of lovers ! she thought, and brooded on 
the little that had been spoken, the much conveyed, for 
a proof of perfect truthfulness. 

The world had watched them. It pronounced them 
discreet if culpable; probably cold to the passion both. 
Of Dacier's coldness it had no doubt, and Diana's was 
presumed from her comical flights of speech. She was 
given to him because of the known failure of her other 
adorers. He in the front rank of politicians attracted 
her with the lustre of his ambition; she him with her 
mingling of talent and beauty. An astute world; right 
in the main, owing to perceptions based upon brute 
nature ; utterly astray in particulars, for the reason that 
it takes no count of the soul of man or woman. Hence 
its glee at a catastrophe ; its poor stock of mercy. And 
when no catastrophe follows, the prophet, for the honour 
of the profession, must decry her as cunning beyond 
aught yet revealed of a serpent sex. 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 319 

Save for a word or two, the watchman might have over- 
heard and trumpeted his report of their interview at 
Diana's house. After the first pained breathing, when 
they found themselves alone in that room where they had 
plighted their fortunes, they talked allusively to define 
the terms imposed on them by Reason. The thwarted 
step was immentioned; it was a past madness., But 
Wisdom being recognized, they could meet. It would be 
hard if that were denied ! They talked very little of their 
position; both understood the mutual acceptance of it; 
and now that he had seen her and was again under the 
spell, Dacier's rational mind, together with his delight in 
her presence, compelled him honourably to bow to the 
terms. Only, as these were severe upon lovers, the 
iimocence of their meetings demanded indemnification 
in frequency. 

'Come whenever you think I can be useful,' said 
Diana. 

They pressed hands at parting, firmly and briefly, not 
for the ordinary dactylology of lovers, but in sign of the 
treaty of amity. 

She soon learnt that she had tied herself to her costly 
household. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

DIALOGUE ROUND THE SUBJECT OF A PORTBAIT, WITH 
SOME INDICATIONS OF THE TASK FOR DIANA 

An enamoured Egeria who is not a princess in her worldly 
state nor a goddess by origin has to play one of those 
parts which strain the woman's faculties past naturalness. 
She must never expose her feelings to her lover ; she must 
make her counsel weighty; otherwise she is little his 



320 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

nymph of the pure wells, and what she soon may be, the 
world will say. She has also, most imperatively, to 
dazzle him without the betrayal of artifice, where simple 
spontaneousness is beyond conjuring. But feelings that 
are constrained becloud the judgement besides arresting 
the fine jet of delivery wherewith the mastered lover is 
taught through his ears to think himself prompted, and 
submit to be controlled, by a creature super-feminine. 
She must make her counsel so weighty in poignant praises 
as to repress impulses that would rouse her own ; and her 
betraying impulsiveness was a subject of reflection to 
Diana after she had given Percy Dacier, metaphorically, 
the key of her house. Only as true Egeria could she 
receive him. She was therefore grateful, she thanked and 
venerated this noblest of lovers for his not pressing to the 
word of love, and so strengthening her to point his mind, 
freshen his moral energies and inspirit him. His chival- 
rous acceptance of the conditions of their renewed inti- 
macy was a radiant knightliness to Diana, elevating her 
with a living image for worship : — ^he so near once to being 
the absolute lord of her destinies ! How to reward him, 
was her sole dangerous thought. She prayed and strove 
that she might give him of her best, to practically help 
him ; and she had reason to suppose she could do it, from 
the visible effftct of her phrases. He glistened in repeat- 
ing them ; he had fallen into the habit ; before witnesses 
too; in the presence of Miss Paynham, who had taken 
earnestly to the art of painting, and obtained her dear 
Mrs. Warwick's promise of a few sittings for the sketch of 
a portrait, near the close of the season. 'A very daring 
thing to attempt,' Miss Paynham said, when he was 
comparing her first outlines and the beautiful breathing 
features. 'Even if one gets the face, the lips will seem 
speechless, to those who know her.' 

'If they have no recollection,' said Dacier. 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 321 

'I mean, the endeavour should be to represent them at 
the moment of speaking.' 

'Put it into the eyes.' He looked at the eyes. 

She looked at the mouth. 'But it is the mouth, more 
than the eyes.' 

He looked at the face. ' Where there is character, you 
have only to study it to be sure of a likeness.' 

'That is the task, with one who utters jewels, Mr. 
Dacier.' 

'Bright wit, I fear, is above the powers of your art.' 

'Still I feel it could be done. See — ^now — that !' 

Diana's lips had opened to say : ' Confess me a model 
model : I am dissected while I sit for portrayal. I must 
be for a moment like the frog of the two countrymen who 
were disputing as to the manner of his death, when he 
stretched to yawn, upon which they agreed that he had 
defeated the truth for both of them. I am not quite 
inanimate.' 

'Irish countrymen,' said Dacier. 

'The story adds, that blows were arrested; so confer 
the nationality as you please.' 

Diana had often to divert him from a too intent perusal 
of her features with sparkles and stories current or in- 
vented to serve the immediate purpose. 

Miss Paynham was Mrs. Warwick's guest for a fortnight, 
and observed them together. She sometimes charitably 
laid down her pencil and left them, having forgotten this 
or that. They were conversing of general matters with 
their usual crisp precision on her return, and she was 
rather like the two countrymen, in debating whether it 
was excess of coolness or discreetness; though she was 
convinced of their inclinations, and expected love some 
day to be leaping up. Diana noticed that she had no 
reminder for leaving the room when it was Mr. Redworth 
present. These two had become very friendly, according 



322 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

to her hopes; and Miss Paynham was extremely solici- 
tous to draw suggestions from Mr. Redworth and win his 
approval. 

'Do I appear likely to catch the mouth now, do you 
think, Mr. Redworth?' 

He remarked, smiling at Diana's expressive dimple, 
that the mouth was difficult to catch. He did not gaze 
intently. Mr. Redworth was the genius of friendship, 
'the friend of women,' Mrs. Warwick had said of him. 
Miss Paynham discovered it, as regarded herself. The 
portrait was his commission to her, kindly proposed, 
secretly of course, to give her occupation and the chance 
of winning a vogue with the face of a famous Beauty. So 
many, however, were Mrs. Warwick's visitors, and so 
lively the chatter she directed, that accurate sketching 
was difficult to an amateurish hand. Whitmonby, 
Sullivan Smith, Westlake, Henry Wilmers, Arthur 
Rhodes, and other gentlemen, literary and military, were 
almost daily visitors when it became known that the 
tedium of the beautiful sitter required beguiling and 
there was a certainty of finding her at home. On Mrs. 
Warwick's Wednesday numerous ladies decorated the 
group. Then was heard such a rillet of dialogue without 
scandal or politics, as nowhere else in Britain ; all vowed 
it subsequently; for to the remembrance it seemed 
magical. Not a breath of scandal, and yet the liveliest 
flow. Lady Pennon came attended by a Mr. Alexander 
Hepburn, a handsome Scot, at whom Dacier shot one of 
his instinctive keen glances, before seeing that the hostess 
had mounted a transient colour. Mr. Hepburn, in set- 
tling himself on his chair rather too briskly, contrived the 
next minute to break a precious bit of China standing by 
his elbow ; and Lady Pennon cried out, with sympathetic 
anguish : ' Oh, my dear, what a trial for you !' 

'Brittle is foredoomed,' said Diana, unruffled. 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 323 

She deserved compliments, and would have had them 
if she had not wounded the most jealous and petulant of 
her courtiers. 

'Then the Turk is a sapient custodian !' said Westlake, 
vexed with her flush at the entrance of the Scot. 

Diana sedately took his challenge. ' We, Mr. Westlake, 
have the philosophy of ownership.' 

Mr. Hepburn penitentially knelt to pick up the frag- 
ments, and Westlake murmured over his head: 'As long 
as it is we who are the cracked.' 

'Did we not start from China?' 

'We were consequently precipitated to Stamboul.' 

' You try to elude the lesson.' 

' I remember my first paedagogue telling me so when he 
rapped the book on my cranium.' 

"The mark of the book is not a disfigurement.' 

It was gently worded, and the shrewder for it. The 
mark of the book, if not a disfigurement, was a character- 
istic of Westlake's fashion of speech. Whitmonby nodded 
twice, for signification of a palpable hit in that bout ; and 
he noted within him the foolishness of obtruding the 
remotest allusion to our personality when crossing the 
foils with a woman. She is down on it like the lightning, 
quick as she is in her contracted circle , politeness guard- 
ing her from a riposte. 

Mr. Hepburn apologized very humbly, after regaining 
his chair. Diana smiled and said : ' Incidents in a draw- 
ing-room are prize-shots at Dulness.' 

'And in a dining-room too,' added Sullivan Smith. 
*I was one day at a dinner-party, apparently of under- 
takers hired to mourn over the joints and the birds in the 
dishes, when the ceiling came down, and we all sprang up 
merry as crickets. It led to a pretty encounter and a real 
prize-shot.' 
, 'Does that signify a duel?' asked Lady Pennon. 



324 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

"Twould be the vulgar title, to bring it into discredit 
with the populace, my lady.' 

' Rank me one of the populace then ! I hate duelling 
and rejoice that it is discountenanced.' 

'The citizens, and not the populace, I think Mr. 
Sullivan Smith means,' Diana said. 'The citizen is 
generally right in morals. My father also was against 
the practice, when it raged at its "prettiest." I have 
heard him relate a story of a poor friend of his, who had 
to march out for a trifle, and said, as he accepted the 
invitation, "It's all nonsense!" and walking to the 
measured length, "It's all nonsense, you know!" and 
when lying on the ground, at his last gasp, "I told you 
it was all nonsense !"' 

I Sullivan Smith leaned over to Whitmonby and Dacier 
amid the ejaculations, and whispered: 'A lady's way of 
telling the story ! — and excuseable to her : — she had to 
Jonah the adjective. What the poor fellow said was 
. . .'he murmured the sixty-pounder adjective, as in the 
belly of the whale, to rightly emphasize his noun. 

Whitmonby nodded to the superior relish imparted by 
the vigour of masculine veracity in narration. 'A story 
for its native sauce piquante,' he said. 

'Nothing without it !' 

They had each a dissolving grain of contempt for 
women compelled by their delicacy to spoil that kind of 
story which demands the piquant accompaniment to 
flavour it racily and make it passable. For to see in- 
sipid mildness complacently swallowed as an excellent 
thing, knowing the rich smack of savour proper to the 
story, is your anecdotal gentleman's annoyance. But if 
the anecdote had supported him, Sullivan Smith would 
have l^et the expletive rest. 

Major Carew Mahoney capped Mrs. Warwick's tale of 
the unfortunate duellist with another, that confessed the 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 325 

practice absurd, though he approved of it ; and he cited 
Lord Larrian's opinion : ' It keeps men braced to civil 
conduct.' 

'I would not differ with the dear old lord ; but no ! the 
pistol is the sceptre of the bully,' said Diana. 

Mr. Hepburn, with the widest of eyes on her in perpe- 
tuity, warmly agreed ; and the man was notorious among 
men for his contrary action. 

'Most righteously our Princess Egeria distinguishes her 
reign by prohibiting it,' said Lady Singleby. 

'And how,' Sullivan Smith sighed heavily, 'how, I 'd 
ask, are ladies to be protected from the bully?' 

He was beset : ' So it was all for us ? all in considera- 
tion for our benefit?' 

He mournfully exclaimed: 'Why, surely!" 

'That is the fimeral apology of the Rod, at the close of 
every barbarous chapter,' said Diana. 

'Too fine in mind, too fat ia body; that is a conse- 
quence with men, dear madam. The conqueror stands 
to his weapons, or he loses his possessions.' 

'Mr. Sullivan Smith jumps at his pleasure from the 
special to the general, and will be back, if we follow him, 
Lady Pennon. It is the trick men charge to women, 
showing that they can resemble us.' 

Lady Pennon thumped her knee. ' Not a bit. There 's 
no resemblance, and they know nothing of us.' 

'Women are a blank to them, I believe,' said Whit- 
monby, treacherously bowing; and Westlake said: 
'Traces of a singular scrawl have been observed when 
they were held in close proximity to the fire.' 

'Once, on the top of a coach,' Whitmonby resumed, 'I 
heard a comely dame of the period when summers are 
ceasing threatened by her husband with a divorce, for 
omittiug to put sandwiches in their luncheon-basket. She 
made him the inscrutable answer : "Ah, poor man ! you 



326 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

will go down ignorant to your grave!" We laughed, 
and to this day I cannot tell you why.' 

'That laugh was from a basket lacking provision; — 
and I think we could trace our separation to it,' Diana 
said to Lady Pennon, who replied: 'They expose them- 
selves ; they get no nearer to the riddle.' 

Miss Courtney, a rising young actress, encouraged by a 
smile from Mrs. Warwick, remarked : ' On the stage, we 
have each our parts equally.' 

'And speaking parts; not personse mutse.' 

'The stage has advanced in verisimilitude,' Henry 
Wilmers added slyly; and Diana rejoined: 'You rec- 
ognize a verisimilitude of the mirror when it is in advance 
of reality. Flatter the sketch. Miss Paynham, for a like- 
ness to be seen. Probably there are stUl Old Conserva- 
tives who would prefer the personation of us by boys.' 

'I don't know,' Westlake affected dubiousness. 'I 
have heard that a step to the riddle is gained by a serious 
contemplation of boys.' 

'Serious?' 

'That is the doubt.' 

'The doubt throws its light on the step !' 

'I advise them not to take any leap from their step,' 
said Lady Pennon. 

'It would be a way of learning that we are no wiser 
than our sires; but perhaps too painful a way,' Whit- 
monby observed. 'Poor Mountford Wilts boasted of 
knowing women; and he married. To jump into the 
mouth of the enigma, is not to read it.' 

'You are figures of conceit when you speculate on us, 
Mr. Whitmonby.' 

'An occupation of our leisure, my lady, for your 
amusement.' 

'The leisure of the humming-top, a thousand to the 
minute, with the pretence that it sleeps !' Diana said. 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 327 

'The sacrilegious hand to strip you of your mystery is 
withered as it stretches,' exclaimed Westlake. 'The sage 
and the devout are in accord for once.' 

'And whichever of the two I may be, I 'm one of them, 
happy to do my homage blindfold!' Sullivan Smith 
waved the sign of it. 

Diana sent her eyes over him and Mr. Hepburn, seeing 
Dacier. 'That rosy medisevalism seems the utmost we 
can expect.' An instant she saddened, foreboding her 
words to be ominous, because of suddenly thirsting for 
a modem cry from him, the silent. She quitted her 
woman's fit of earnestness, and took to the humour that 
pleased him. 'Aslauga's knight, at his blind man's buff 
of devotion, catches the hem of the tapestry and is found 
by his lady kissing it in a trance of homage five hours long ! 
Sir Hilary of Agincourt, returned from the wars to his 
castle at midnight, hears that the chatellaine is away 
dancing, and remains with all his men moimted in the 
courtyard till the grey mom brings her back ! Adorable ! 
We had a flag flying in those days. Since men began to 
fret the riddle, they have hauled it down half-mast. Soon 
we shall behold a bare pole and hats on around it. That 
is their solution.' 

A smile circled at the hearing of Lady Singleby say: 
'WeU, I am all for our own times, however literal the 
men.' 

'We are two different species !' thumped Lady Pennon, 
swimming on the theme. 'I am sure, I read what they 
write of women ! And their heroines !' 

Lady Esquart acquiesced : 'We are utter fools or horrid 
knaves.' 

'Nature's original hieroglyphs — which have that ap- 
pearance to the peruser,' Westlake assented. 

' And when they would decipher us, and they hit on one 
of our "arts," the literary pirouette they perform is 



328 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

memorable.' Diana looked invitingly at Dacier. 'But 
I for one discern a possible relationship and a likeness.' 

'I think it exists — ^behind a curtain,' Dacier replied. 

'Before the era of the Nursery. Liberty to grow; 
independence is the key of the secret.' 

'And what comes after the independence?' he in- 
quired. 

Whitmonby, musiag that some distraction of an earnest 
incentive spoilt Mrs. Warwick's wit, informed him : ' The 
two different species then break their shallow armistice 
and join the shock of battle for possession of the earth, 
and we are outnumbered and exterminated, to a certainty. 
So I am against independence.' 

'Socially a Mussulman, subject to explosions!' Diana 
said. 'So the eternal duel between us is maintained, and 
men will protest that they are for civilization. Dear me, 
I should like to write a sketch of the women of the future 
— don't be afraid! — the far future. What a different 
earth you will see I' 

And very different creatures ! the gentlemen unani- 
mously surmised. Westlake described the fairer portion, 
no longer the weaker ; frightful hosts. 

Diana promised him a sweeter picture, if ever she 
brought her hand to paint it. 

' You would be offered up to the English national hang- 
man, Jehoiachim Sneer,' interposed Arthur Rhodes, evi- 
dently firing a gun too big for him, of premeditated 
charging, as his patroness perceived ; but she knew him to 
be smartiag under recent applications of the swish of Mr. 
Sneer, and that he rushed to support her. She covered 
him by saying: 'If he has to be encountered, he kUls 
none but the cripple,' wherewith the dead pause ensuing 
from a dose of outlandish speech in good company was 
bridged, though the youth heard Westlake mutter un- 
pleasantly: 'Jehoiachim,' and had to endure a stare of 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 329 

Dacier's, who did not conceal his want of compre- 
hension of the place he occupied in Mrs. Warwick's 
gatherings. 

'They know nothing of us whatever!' Lady Pennon 
harped on her dictum. 

'They put us in a case and profoundly study the captive 
creature,' said Diana: 'but would any man understand 
this . . . ?' She dropped her voice and drew in the 
heads of Lady Pennon, Lady Singleby, Lady Esquart and 
Miss Courtney : ' Real woman's nature speaks. A maid 
of mine had a "follower." She was a good girl; I was 
anxious about her and asked her if she could trust him. 
"Oh, yes, ma'am," she replied, "I can; he's quite like 
a female." I longed to see the young man, to teU him he 
had received the highest of eulogies.' 

The ladies appreciatingly declared that such a tale was 
beyond the understandings of men. Miss Paynham 
primmed her mouth, admitting to herself her inability to 
repeat such a tale; an act that she deemed not 'quite 
like a lady.' She had previously come to the conclusion 
that Mrs. Warwick, with all her generous qualities, was 
deficient in delicate sentiment — owing perhaps to her 
coldness of temperament. Like Dacier also, she failed 
to comprehend the patronage of Mr. Rhodes : it led to 
suppositions; indefinite truly, and not calumnious at 
all; but a young poet, rather good-looking and well 
built, is not the same kind of wing-chick as a young 
actress, like Miss Courtney — ^Mrs. Warwick's latest 
shieldling : he is hardly enrolled for the reason that was 
assumed to sanction Mrs. Warwick's maid in the en- 
couragement of her follower. Miss Paynham sketched on, 
with her thoughts in her bosom : a damsel castigatingly 
pursued by the idea of sex as the direct motive of 
every act of every person surrounding her ; deductively 
therefore that a certain form of the impelling passion, mild 



330 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

or terrible, or capricious, or it might be less pardonable, 
was unceasingly at work among the human couples up 
to decrepitude. And, she too frequently hit the fact to 
doubt her gift of reading into them. Mr. Dacier was 
plain, and the state of young Mr. Rhodes; and the 
Scottish gentleman was at least a vehement admirer. 
But she penetrated the breast of Mr. Thomas Redworth 
a,s well, mentally tore his mask of friendship to shreds. 
He was kind indeed in commissioniag her to do the por- 
trait. His desire for it, and his urgency to have the 
features exactly given, besides the infrequency of his 
visits of late, when a favoured gentleman was present, 
were the betraying signs. Deductively, moreover, the 
lady who inspired the passion in numbers of gentlemen and 
set herself to win their admiration with her lively play of 
dialogue, must be coquettish; she could hold them only 
by coldness. Anecdotes, epigrams, drolleries, do not 
bubble to the lips of a woman who is under an emotional 
spell : rather they prove that she has the spell for casting. 
It suited Mr. Dacier, Miss Paynham thought : it was 
cruel to Mr. Redworth; at whom, of all her circle, the 
beautiful woman looked, when speaking to him, sometimes 
tenderly. 

'Beware the silent one of an assembly!' Diana had 
written. She did not think of her words while Miss Payn- 
ham continued mutely sketching. The silent ones, with 
much conversation around them, have their heads at 
work, critically perforce; the faster if their hands are 
occupied; and the point they lean to do is the pivot of 
their thoughts. Miss Paynham felt for Mr. Redworth. 

Diana was unaware of any other critic present than him 
she sought to enliven, not unsuccessfully, notwithstanding 
his English objection to the pitch of the converse she led, 
and a suspicion of effort to support it : — ^just a doubt, with 
all her easy voluble run, of the possibility of naturalness 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 331 

in a continuous cleverness. But he signified pleasure, 
and in pleasing him she was happy : in the knowledge 
that she dazzled, was her sense of safety. Percy hated 
scandal ; he heard none. He wanted stirring, cheering ; 
in her house he had it. He came daily, and as it was her 
wish that new themes, new flights of converse, should 
dehght him and show her exhaustless, to preserve her 
ascendancy, she welcomed him without consulting the 
world. He was witness of Mr. Hepburn's presentation 
of a costly China vase, to repair the breach in her array 
of ornaments, and excuse a visit. Judging by the absence 
of any blow within, he saw not a sign of coquettry. Some 
such visit had been anticipated by the prescient woman, 
so there was no reddening. She brought about an ex- 
change of sentences between him and her furious admirer, 
sparing either of them a glimpse of which was the sacrifice 
to the other, amusing them both. Dacier could allow 
Mr. Hepburn to outsit him ; and he left them, proud of 
his absolute confidence in her. 

She was mistaken in imagining that her social vivacity, 
mixed with comradeship of the active intellect, was the 
charm which kept Mr. Percy Dacier temperate when he 
well knew her to distinguish him above her courtiers. 
Her powers of dazzling kept him tame; they did not 
stamp her mark on him. He was one of the order of 
highly polished men, ignorant of women, who are im- 
pressed for long terms by temporary flashes, that hold 
them bound until a fresh impression comes, to confirm 
or obliterate the preceding. Affairs of the world he could 
treat competently; he had a head for high politics and 
the management of men ; the feminine half of the world 
was a confusion and a vexation to his intelligence, char- 
acterless; and one woman at last appearing decipher- 
able, he fancied it must be owing to her possession of 
gharacter, a thing prized the more in women because of 



332 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

his latent doubt of its existence. Character, that was 
the mark he aimed at; that moved him to homage as 
neither sparkling wit nor incomparable beauty, nor the 
unusual combination, did. To be distinguished by a 
woman of character (beauty and wit for jewellery), was 
his minor ambition in life, and if Fortune now gratified 
it, he owned to the flattery. It really seemed by every 
test that she had the quality. Since the day when he 
beheld her by the bedside of his dead uncle, and that one 
on the French sea-sands, and again at Copsley, ghostly 
white out of her wrestle with death, bleeding holy sweat 
of brow for her friend, the print of her features had been 
on him as an index of depth of character, imposing 
respect and admiration — a sentiment imperilled by her 
consent to fly with him. Her subsequent reserve until 
they met — by an accident that the lady at any rate was 
not responsible for, proved the quality positively. And 
the nature of her character, at first suspected, vanquished 
him more, by comparison, than her vivid intellect, which 
he originally, and still lingeringly, appreciated in conde- 
scension, as a singular accomplishment, thrilling at times, 
now and then assailably feminine. But, after her consent 
to a proposal that caused him retrospective worldly 
shudders, and her composed recognition of the madness, a 
character capable of holding him in some awe was real 
majesty, and it rose to the clear heights, with her mental 
attributes for satellites. His tendency to despise women 
was wholesomely checked by the experience to justify 
him in saying. Here is a worthy one ! She was health 
to him, as well as trusty counsel. Furthermore, where 
he respected, he was a governed man, free of the common 
masculine craze to scale fortresses for the sake of lowering 
flags. Whilst under his impression of her character, he 
submitted honourably to the ascendancy of a lady whose 
conduct suited him and whose preference flattered; 



THE SUBJECT OF A PORTRAIT 333 

whose presence was very refreshing; whose letters were 
a stimulant. Her letters were really running well-waters, 
not a lover's delusion of the luminous mind of his lady. 
They sparkled in review and preserved their integrity 
under critical analysis. The reading of them hurried 
him in pursuit of her from house to house during the 
autumn; and as she did not hiat at the shadow his 
coming cast on her, his conscience was easy. Regarding 
their future, his political anxieties were a mountainous 
defile, curtaining the outlook. They met at Lockton, 
where he arrived after a recent consultation with his 
Chief, of whom, and the murmurs of the Cabinet, he 
spoke to Diana openly, in some dejection. 

'They might see he has been breaking with his party 
for the last four years,' she said. 'The plunge to be taken 
is tremendous.' 

'But will he? He appears too despondent for a 
header.' 

'We cannot dance on a quaking floor.' 

' No ; it 's exactly that quake of the floor which gives 
"much qualms," to me as well,' said Dacier. 

'A treble Neptune's power!' she rejoined, for his 
particular delectation. 'Enough if he hesitates. I 
forgive him his nausea. He awaits the impetus, and it 
will reach him, and soon. He will not wait for the mob 
at his heels, I am certain. A Minister who does that, is 
a post, and goes down with the first bursting of the dam. 
He has tried compromise and discoverd that it does not 
appease the Fates; is not even a makeshift-mending at 
this hour. He is a man of nerves, very sensitively built ; 
as quick — quicker than a woman, I could almost say, 
to feel the tremble of the air — ^forerunner of imperative 
changes.' 

Dacier brightened fondly. 'You positively describe 
him ; paint him to the life, without knowing him !' 



334 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'I have seen him; and if I paint, whose are the 
colours ? ' 

'Sometimes I repeat you to him, and I get all the 
credit,' said Dacier. 

'I glow with pride to think of speaking anything that 
you repeat,' said Diana, and her eyes were proudly 
lustreful. 

Their love was noiirished on these mutual flatteries. 
Thin food for passion! The innocence of it sanctioned 
the meetings and the appointments to meet. When 
separated they were interchanging letters, formally 
worded in the apostrophe and the termination, but 
throbbingly full : or Diana thought so of Percy's letters, 
with grateful justice; for his manner of opening his heart- 
in amatory correspondence was to confide important 
secret matters, up to which mark she sprang to reply in 
counsel. He proved his affection by trusting her; his 
respect by his tempered style: — 'A Greenland style of 
writing,' she had said of an unhappy gentleman's episto- 
lary compositions resembling it; and now the same 
official baldness was to her mind Italianly rich; it called 
forth such volumes. 

Flatteries that were thin food for passion appeared the 
simplest exchanges of courtesy, and her meetings with her 
lover, judging by the nature of the discourse they held, so 
consequent to their joint interest in the great crisis antici- 
pated, as to rouse her indignant surprise and a turn for 
downright rebellion when the Argus world signified the 
fact of its having one eye, or more, wide open. 

Debit and Credit, too, her buzzing familiars, insisted 
on an audience at each ear, and at the house-door, on her 
return to London. 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 335 



CHAPTER XXIX 

SHOWS THE APPROACHES OF THE POLITICAL AND THE 
DOMESTIC CiUSIS IN COMPANY 

There was not much talk of Diana between Lady Dun- 
stane and her customary visitor Tom Redworth now. She 
was shy in speaking of the love-stricken woman, and more 
was in his mind for thought than for speech. She some- 
times wondered how much he might know, ending with 
the reflection that little passing around was unknown to 
him. He had to shut his mind against thought, against 
all meditation upon Mrs. Warwick; it was based scien- 
tiJScally when speculating and calculating, on the material 
element — a talisman. Men and women crossing the high 
seas of life he had found mo^t readable under that illumi- 
nating inquiry, as to their means. An inspector of sea- 
worthy ships proceeds in like manner. Whence would 
the money come? He could not help the bent of his. 
mind; but he could avoid subjecting her to the talis- 
manic touch. The girl at the Dublin Ball, the woman at 
the fire-grate of The Crossways, both in one were his. 
Diana. Now and then, hearing an ugly whisper, his 
manful sympathy with the mere woman in her im- 
prisoned liberty, defended her desperately from charges, 
not distinctly formulated within him : — ' She 's not 
made of stone.' That was a height of self-abnegation 
to shake the poor fellow to his roots ; but, then, he had 
no hopes of his own ; and he stuck to it. Her choice of 
a man like Dacier, too, of whom Redworth judged highly, 
showed nobility. She irradiated the man; but no base- 
ness could be in such an alliance. If allied, they were 
bound together for good. The tie — supposing a villain 



336 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

world not wrong— was only not the sacred tie because of 
impediments. The tie ! — ^he deliberated, and said stoutly 
No. Men of Redworth's nature go through sharp con- 
tests, though the duration of them is short, and the tussle 
of his worship of this woman with the materialistic turn 
of his mind was closed by the complete shutting up of 
the latter under lock and bar ; so that a man, very little 
of an idealist, was able to sustain her in the pure imag- 
ination—where, she did almost belong to him. She 
was his, in a sense, because she might have been his — but 
for an incredible extreme of folly. The dark ring of the . 
eclipse cast by some amazing foolishness round the shining 
crescent perpetually in secret claimed the whole sphere of 
her, by what might have been, while admitting her lost 
to him in fact. To Thomas Redworth's mind the lack 
of perfect sanity in his conduct at any period of manhood, 
was so entirely past belief that he flew at the circum- 
stances confirming the charge, and had wrestles with the 
angel of reality, who did but set him dreaming backward, 
after flinging him. 

He heard at Lady Wathin's that Mrs. Warwick was in 
town for the winter. 'Mr. Dacier is also in town,' Lady 
Wathin said, with an acid indication of the needless 
mention of it. 'We have not seen him.' She invited 
Redworth to meet a few friends at dinner. 'I think you 
admire Miss Asper : in my idea a very saint among young 
women ; — and you know what the young women of our 
day are. She will be present. She is, you are aware, 
England's greatest heiress. Only yesterday, hearing of 
that poor man Mr. Warwick's desperate attack of illness — 
heart ! — and of his having no relative or friend to soothe 
his pUlow, — he is lying in absolute loneliness, — she offered 
to go and nurse him ! Of course it could not be done. It 
is not her place. The beauty. of the character of a dear 
innocent young girl, with every gratification at command, 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 337 

who could make the offer, strikes me as unparalleled. She 
was perfectly sincere — she is sincerity. She asked at 
once, Where is he? She wished me to accompany her 
on a first visit. I saw a tear.' 

Redworth had called at Lady Wathin's for infonnation 
of the state of Mr. Warwick, concerning which a rumour 
was abroad. No stranger to the vagrant compassionate- 
ness of sentimentalists; — rich, idle, conscience-pricked or 
praise-catching; — ^he was unmoved by the tale that Miss 
Asper had proposed to go to Mr. Warwick's sick-bed in the 
imiform of a Sister of Charity: — 'Speaking French!' 
Lady Wathin exclaimed ; and his head rocked, as he said : 
'An Englishman would not be likely to know better.' 

'She speaks exquisite French — all European lan- 
guages, Mr. Redworth. She does not pretend to mt. 
To my thinking, depth of sentiment is a far more feminine 
accomplishment. It assuredly will be foimd a greater 
treasure.' 

The modest man (modest in such matters) was led by 
degrees to fancy himself sounded regarding Miss Asper : 
a piece of sculpture glacially decorative of the domestic 
mansion in person, to his thinking ; and as to the nature 
of it — not a Diana, with all her faults ! 

If Diana had any faults, in a world and a position so 
heavily against her ! He laughed to himself, when alone, 
at the neatly implied bitter reproach cast on the wife by 
the forsaken young lady, who proposed to nurse the aban- 
doned husband of the woman bereaving her of the man 
she loved. Sentimentalists enjoy these tricks, the con- 
ceiving or the doing of them — ^the former mainly, which 
are cheaper, and equally effective. Miss Asper might be 
deficient in wit; this was a form of practical wit, occa- 
sionally exhibited by creatures acting on their instincts. 
Warwick he pitied, and he put compulsion on himself to 
go and see the poor fellow, the subject of so sublime a 



338 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

generosity. Mr. Warwick sat in an arm-chair, his legs out 
straight on the heels, his jaw dragging hollow cheeks, his 
hands loosely joined; improving in health, he said. A 
demure woman of middle age was in attendance. He 
did not speak of his wife. Three times he said discon- 
nectedly, 'I hear reports,' and his eyelids worked. Red- 
worth talked of general affairs, without those consolatory 
efforts, useless between men, which are neither medicine 
nor good honest water : — he judged by personal feelings. 
In consequence, he left an invalid the sourer for his 
visit. 

Next day he received a briefly-worded summons from 
Mrs. Warwick. 

Crossing the park on the line to Diana's house, he met 
Miss Paynham, who grieved to say that Mrs. Warwick 
could not give her a sitting; and in a stUl mournfuller 
tone, imagined he would find her at home, and alone by 
this time. 'I left no one but Mr. Dacier there,' she 
observed. 

'Mrs. Warwick will be disengaged to-morrow, no 
doubt,' he said consolingly. 

Her head performed the negative. 'They talk politics, 
and she becomes animated, loses her pose. I will per- 
severe, though I fear I have undertaken a task too much 
for me.' 

'I am deeply indebted to you for the attempt.' Red- 
worth bowed to her and set his face to the Abbey-towers, 
which wore a different aspect in the smoked grey light 
since his two minutes of colloquy. He had previously 
noticed that meetings with Miss Paynham produced a 
similar effect on him, a not so very impressionable man. 
And how was it done ? She told him nothing he did not 
know or guess. 

Diana was alone. Her manner, after the greeting, 
seemed feverish. She had not to excuse herself for 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 339 

abruptness when he heard the nature of the subject. 
Her counsellor and friend was informed, in feminine style, 
that she had requested him to call, for the purpose of 
consulting him with regard to a matter she had decided 
upon; and it was, the sale of The Crossways. She said 
that it would have gone to her heart once ; she supposed 
she had lost her affection for the place, or had got the 
better of her superstitions. She spoke lamely as well as 
bluntly. The place was hers, she said ; her own property. 
Her husband could not interdict a sale. 

Redworth addressed himself to her smothered antago- 
nism. 'Even if he had rights, as they are termed ... I 
think you might count on their not being pressed.' 

'I have been told of illness.' She tapped her foot on 
the floor. 

'His present state of health is unequal to his ordinary 
duties.' 

'Emma Dunstane is fully supplied with the latest 
intelligence, Mr. Redworth. You know the source.' 

'I mention it simply . . .' 

'Yes, yes. What I have to protest is, that in this 
respect I am free. The Law has me fast, but leaves me 
its legal view of my small property. I have no authority 
over me. I can do as I please in this, without a collision, 
or the dread of one. It is the married woman's perpetual 
dread when she ventures a step. Your Law originally 
presumed her a China-footed animal. And more, I have a 
claim for maintenance.' 

She crimsoned angrily. 

Redworth showed a look of pleasure, hard to imder- 
stand. 'The application would be sufficient, I fancy,' 
he said. 

'It should have been offered.' 

'Did you not decline it?' 
• 'I declined to apply for it. I thought — But, Mr. 



340 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Redworth, another thing, concerning us all : I want very 
much to hear your ideas of the prospects of the League ; 
because I know you have ideas. The leaders are terrible 
men ; they fascinate me. They appear to move with an 
army of facts. They are certainly carrying the country. 
I am obliged to think them sincere. Common agitators 
would not hold together, as they do. They gather 
strength each year. If their statistics are not illusory — ■ 
an army of phantoms instead of one of facts ; — and they 
knock at my head without admission, I have to confess ; — 
they must win.' 

'Ultimately, it is quite calculable that they will win,' 
said Redworth ; and he was led to discourse of rates and 
duties and prohibitive tariffs to a woman surprisingly 
athirst, curious for every scrap of intelligence relating to 
the power, organization, and schemes of the League. 
'Common sense is the secret of every successful civil 
agitation,' he said. 'Rap it unremittingly on crowds of 
the thickest of human heads, and the response comes at 
last to sweep all before it.* You may reckon that the 
country will beat the landlords — ^for that is our question. 
Is it one of your political themes ? ' 

' I am not presumptuous to such a degree : — a poor 
scholar,' Diana replied. 'Women striving to lift their 
heads among men deserve the sarcasm.' 

He denied that any sarcasm was intended, and the 
lesson continued. When she had shaped in her mind 
some portion of his knowledge of the subject, she reverted 
casually to her practical business. Would he undertake 
to try to obtain a purchaser of The Crossways, at the price 
he might deem reasonable ? She left the price entirely to 
his judgement. And now she had determined to part with 
the old place, the sooner the better ! She said that smil- 
ing; and Redworth smiled, outwardly and inwardly. 
Her talk of her affairs was clearer to him than her curiosity 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 341 

for the mysteries of the League. He gamed kind looks 
besides warm thanks by the promise to seek a purchaser ; 
especially by his avoidance of prying queries. She 
wanted just this excellent automaton fac-totum; and she 
referred him to Mr. Braddock for the title-deeds, et caetera 
— ^the chirping phrase of ladies happily washing their 
hands of the mean details of business. 

' How of your last work ? ' he asked her. 

Serenest equanimity rejoined: 'As I anticipated, it is 
not popular. The critics are of one mind with the public. 
You may have noticed, they rarely flower above that 
rocky surface. The Cantatricb sings them a false note. 
My next will probably please them less.' 

Her mobile lips and brows shot the faint upper-wreath 
of a smile hovering. It was designed to display her 
philosophy. 

'And what is the name of your next?' said he. 

'I name it The Man of Two Minds, if you can allow 
that to be in nature.' 

'Contra-distinguished from the woman?' 

'Oh ! you must first believe the woman to have one.' 

'You are working on it?' 

'By fits. And I forgot, Mr. Redworth : I have mislaid 
my receipts, and must ask you for the address of your wine- 
merchant; — or, will you? Several dozen of the same 
wines. I can trust him to be in awe of you, and the good 
repute of my table depends on his honesty.' 

Redworth took the definite order for a large supply of 
wine. 

She gave him her hand : a lost hand, dear to hold, need- 
ing to be guided, he feared. For him, it was merely a hand, 
cut off from the wrist ; and he had performed that execu- 
tive part ! A wiser man would now have been the lord of 
it. . . . So he felt, with his burning wish to protect and 
cherish the beloved woman, while saying: 'If we find a 



342 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

speedy bidder for The Crossways, you will have to thank 
our railways.' 

'You!' said Diana, confident in his ability to do every- 
thing of the practical kind. 

Her ingenuousness tickled him. He missed her comic 
touches upon men and things, but the fever shown by her 
manner accounted for it. 

As soon as he left her, she was writing to the lover who 
had an hour previously been hearing her voice ; the note 
of her theme being Party ; and how to serve it, when to 
sacrifice it to the Country. She wrote, carolling bars of 
the Puritani marches ; and such will passion do, that her 
choice of music was quite in harmony with her theme. 
The martially-amorous melodies of Italian Opera in those 
days fostered a passion challenged to intrepidity from the 
heart of softness ; gliding at the same time, and putting 
warm blood even into dull arithmetical figures which 
might be important to her lover, her hero fronting battle. 
She condensed Redworth's information skUfuUy, heartily 
giving it and whatever she had imbibed, as her own, down 
to the remark : 'Common sense in questions of justice, is 
a weapon that makes way into human heads and wins 
the certain majority, if we strike with it incessantly.' 
Whether anything she wrote was her own, mattered little : 
the savour of Percy's praise, which none could share with 
her, made it instantly all her own. Besides she wrote to 
strengthen him; she naturally laid her friends and the 
world under contribution; and no other sort of writing 
was possible. Percy had not a common interest in fiction ; 
still less for high comedy. He liked the broad laugh when 
he deigned to open books of that sort ; puns and strong 
flavours and harlequin surprises ; and her work would not 
admit of them, however great her willingness to force her 
hand for his amusement : consequently her inventiveness 
deadened. She had to cease whipping it. 'My poor old 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 343 

London cabhorse of a pen shall go to grass !' she sighed, 
looking to the sale of The Crossways for money ; looking 
no farther. 

Those marshalled battaUons of Debit and Credit were in 
hostile order, the weaker simply devoted to fighting for 
delay, when a winged messenger bearing the form of old 
Mr. Braddock descended to her with the reconciling news 
that a hermit bachelor, an acquaintance of Mr. Redworth's 
— ^both of whom wore a gloomy hue in her mind immedi- 
ately — ^had offered a sum for the purchase of The Cross- 
ways. Considering the out-of-the-way district, Mr. Brad- 
dock thought it an excellent price to get. She thought the 
reverse, but confessed that double the sum would not have 
altered her opinion. Double the sum scarcely counted for 
the service she required of it for much more than a year. 
The money was paid shortly after into her Bank, and 
then she enjoyed the contemptuous feUcity of tossing 
meat to her hons, tigers, wolves, and jackals, who,- but for 
the fortunate intervention, would have been feeding on 
her. These menagerie beasts of prey were the lady's 
tradesmen, Debit's hungry brood. She had a rapid 
glimpse of a false position in regarding that legitimate 
band so scornfully : another glimpse likewise of a day to 
come when they might not be stopped at the door. She 
was running a race with something; — ^with what? It 
was unnamed ; it ran in a shroud. 

At times she surprised her heart violently beating when 
there had not been a thought to set it in motion. She 
traced it once to the words, 'next year,' incidentally men- 
tioned. 'Free,' was a word that checked her throbs, as 
at a question of life or death. Her sohtude, excepting 
the hours of sleep, if then, was a time of irregular breathing. 
The something imnamed, running beside her, became a 
dreadful familiar; the race between them past con- 
templation for ghastliness. 'But this is your Law !' she 



344 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

cried to the world, while blinding her eyes against a peep 
of the shrouded features. 

Singularly, she had but to abandon hope, and the 
shadowy figure vanished, the tragic race was ended. How 
to live and think, and not to hope : the slave of passion 
had this problem before her. 

Other tasks were supportable, though one seemed hard 
at moments and was not passive; it attacked her. The 
men and women of her circle derisively, unanimously, 
disbelieved in an innocence that forfeited reputation. 
Women were complimentarily assiuned to be not such 
gaping idiots. And as the weeks advanced, a change 
came over Percy. The gentleman had grown restless at 
covert congratulations, hollow to his knowledge, however 
much caressing vanity, and therefore secretly a wound to 
it. One day, after sitting silent, he bluntly proposed to 
break 'this foolish trifling'; just in his old manner, 
though not so honourably; not very definitely either. 
Her hand was taken. 

'I feared that dumbness !' Diana said, letting her hand 
go, but keeping her composure. 'My friend Percy, I am 
not a lion-tamer, and if you are of those animals, we 
break the chapter. Plainly you think that where there 
appears to be a choice of fools, the woman is distinctly 
designed for the person. Drop my hand, or I shall re- 
peat the fable of the Goose with the Golden Eggs.' 

' Fables are applicable only in the school-room,' said he ; 
and he ventured on 'Tony !' 

'I vowed an oath to my dear Emma — as good as to the 
heavens ! and that of itself would stay me from being in- 
sane again.' She released herself. 'Signor Percy, you 
teach me to suspect you of having an idle wish to pluck 
your plaything to pieces : — to boast of it ? Ah ! my 
friend, I fancied I was of more value to you. You must 
come less often ; even to not at all, if you are one of those 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 345 

idols with feet of clay which leave the print of their steps 
in a room ; or fall and crush the sUly idolizer.' 

' But surely you know . . . ' said he. ' We can't have 
to wait long.' He looked full of hopeful meanings. 

*A reason . . . !' She kept down her breath. A long- 
drawn sigh followed, through parted lips. She had a 
sensation of horror. 'And I cannot propose to nurse 
him — Emma will not hear of it,' she said. 'I dare not. 
Hypocrite to that extreme ? Oh, no ! But I must hear 
nothing. As it is, I am haunted. Now let this pass. 
Tony me no Tonies; I am atony to such whimpering, 
business now we are in the van of the struggle. All 
round us it sounds like war. Last night I had Mr, 
Tonans dining here; he wished to meet you; and you 
must have a private meeting with Mr. "Whitmonby : he 
will be useful ; others as well. You are wrong in affecting- 
contempt of the Press. It perches you on a rock; but 
the swimmer in politics knows what draws the tides. 
Your own people, your set, your class, are a drag to you, 
like inherited superstitions to the wakening brain. The- 
greater the glory ! For you see the lead you take ? You 
are saving your class. They should lead, and will, if they 
prove worthy in the crisis. Their curious error is to> 
believe in the stability of a monumental position.' 

'Perfectly true!' cried Dacier; and the next minute,, 
heated by approbation, was begging for her hand earnestly.. 
She refused it. 

'But you say things that catch me!' he pleaded^ 
'Remember, it was nearly mine. It soon will be mine. 
I heard yesterday from Lady Wathin . . . well, if it. 
pains you!' 

'Speak on,' said Diana, resigned to her thirsty ears. 

'He is not expected to last through the autumn.' 

'The calculation is hers?' 

'Not exactly : — ^judging from the symptoms.' 



346 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Diana flashed a fiery eye into Dacier's, and rose. She 
was past danger of melting, with her imagination darkened 
by the funeral image ; but she craved solitude, and had to 
act the callous, to dismiss him. 

'Good. Enough for the day. Now leave me, if you 
please. When we meet again, stifle that raven's croak. 
I am not a "Sister of Charity," but neither am I a vulture 
hovering for the horse in the desert to die. A poor 
simile ! — when it is my own and not another's breath that 
I want. Nothing in nature, only gruesome German 
stories will fetch comparisons for the yoke of this Law of 
yours. It seems the nightmare dream following an ogre's 
supper.' 

She was not acting the shiver of her frame. 

To-morrow was open to him, and prospect of better 
fortune, so he departed, after squeezing the hand she 
ceremoniously extended. 

But her woman's intuition warned her that she had not 
maintained the sovereign impression which was her 
security. And hope had become a flame in her bosom 
that would no longer take the common extinguisher. The 
race she ran was with a shrouded figure no more, but with 
the figure of the shroud ; she had to summon paroxysms 
of a pity hard to feel, images of sickness, helplessness, the 
vaults, the last human silence — for the stilling of her 
passionate heart. And when this was partly effected, 
the question. Am I going to live? renewed her tragical 
struggle. Who was it under the vaults, in the shroud, 
between the planks? and with human sensibility to 
swell the horror ! Passion whispered of a vaster sorrow 
needed for herself; and the hope conjuring those frightful 
complexities was needed to soothe her. She pitied the 
man, but she was an enamoured woman. Often of late 
she had been sharply stung, relaxed as well, by the obser- 
vations of Danvers assisting at her toilette. Had she 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 347 

beauty and charm, beauty and rich health in the young 
summer bloommg of her days? — and all doomed to 
waste? No insurgency of words arose in denunciation 
of the wrong done to her nature. An undefined heavy 
feeling of wrong there was, just perceptive enough to let 
her know, without gravely shaming, that one or another 
must be slain for peace to come ; for it is the case in which 
the world of the Laws overloading her is pitiless to women, 
deaf past ear-trumpets, past intercession; detesting 
and reviling them for a feeble human cry, and for one 
apparent step of revolt piling the pelted stones on them. 
It will not discriminate shades of hue, it massacres all the 
shadowed. They are honoured, after a fashion, at a 
certain elevation. Descending from it, and purely to 
breathe common air (thus in her mind), they are scourged 
and outcast. And alas ! the very pleading for them 
excites a sort of ridicule in their advocate. How? She 
was utterly, even desperately, nay personally, earnest, 
and her humour closed her lips; though comical views 
of the scourged and outcast coming from the opposite 
party — ^the huge bully world — ^she would not have toler- 
ated. Diana raged at a prevailing strength on the part 
of that huge bully world, which seemed really to embrace 
the atmosphere. Emma had said : ' The rules of Christian 
Society are a blessed Government for us women. We 
owe it so much that there is not a brick of the fabric we 
should not prop.' Emma's talk of obedience to the Laws, 
being Laws, was repeated by the rebel, with an involun- 
tary unphrased comparison of the vessel in dock and the 
vessel at sea. 

When Dacier next called to see Mrs. Warwick, he heard 
that she had gone to Copsley for a couple of weeks. The 
lesson was emphasized by her not writing: — and was it 
the tricky sex, or the splendid character of the woman, 
which dealt him this punishment? Eoiowing how much 



348 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Diana forfeited for him, he was moved to some enthusi- 
asm, despite his inclination to be hurt. 

She, on her return to London, gained a considerable 
increase of knowledge as to her position in the eye of the 
world; and unlike the result of her meditations derived 
from the clamouring tradesmen, whom she could excuse, 
she was neither illuminated nor cautioned by that dubious 
look ; she conscientiously revolted. Lady Pennon hinted 
a word for her Government. 'A good deal of what you 
so capitally call "Green tea talk" is going on, my dear.' 
Diana replied, without pretending to misunderstand: 
' Gossip is a beast of prey that does not wait for the death 
of the creature it devours. They are welcome to my 
shadow, if the liberty I claim casts one, and it feeds them.' 
To which the old lady rejoined: 'Oh! I am with you 
through thick and thin. I presented you at Court, and 
I stand by you. Only, walk carefully. Women have to 
walk with a train. You are too famous not to have your 
troops of watchers.' 

'But I mean to prove,' said Diana, 'that a woman can 
walk with her train independent of the common reserves 
and artifices.' 

'Not on highways, my dear !' 

Diana, praising the speaker, referred the whole truth in 
that to the material element of her metaphor. 

She was more astonished by Whitmonby's candid 
chiding; but with him she could fence, and men are 
easily diverted. She had sent for him, to bring him and 
Percy Dacier together to a conference. Unaware of the 
project, he took the opportunity of their privacy to speak 
of the great station open to her in London being im- 
perilled; and he spoke of 'tongues,' and ahem! Avery 
little would have induced him to fill that empty vocable 
with a name. 

She had to pardon the critic in him for an unpleasant 



POLITICAL AND DOMESTIC CRISIS 349 

review of her hapless Cantatrice; and as a means of 
evasion, she mentioned the poor book and her slaughter 
of the heroine, that he had complained of. 

'I killed her; I could not let her live. You were un- 
just in accusing the authoress of heartlessness.' 

'If I did, I retract,' said he. 'She steers too evi- 
dently from the centre of the vessel. She has the organ 
in excess.' 

' Proof that it is not squandered.' 

' The point concerns direction.' 

' Have I made so bad a choice of my friends ? ' 

' It is the common error of the sprightly to suppose that 
in parrying a thrust they blind our eyes.' 

'The world sees always what it desires to see, Mr. 
Whitmonby.' 

'The world, my dear Mrs. Warwick, is a blundering 
machine upon its own affairs, but a cruel sleuth-hound to 
rouse in pursuit.' 

' So now you have me chased by sight and scent. And 
if I take wing?' 

' Shots ! volleys ! — You are lawful game. The choice 
you have made of your friends, should oblige you to think 
of them.' 

'I imagine I do. Have I offended any, or one?' 

'I will not say that. You know the commotion in a 
French kitchen when the guests of the house declined a 
particular dish furnished them by command. The cook 
and his crew were loyal to their master, but, for the love 
of their Art, they sent him notice. It is ill serving a mad 
sovereign.' 

Diana bowed to the compact little apologue. 

'I will tell you another story, traditional in our family 
from my great-grandmother, a Spanish woman,' she said. 
'A cavalier serenaded his mistress, and rascal mercenaries 
Sell upon him before he could draw sword. He battered 



350 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

his guitar on their pates till the lattice opened with a cry, 
and startled them to flight. "Thrice blessed and be- 
loved !" he called to her above, in reference to the noise, 
" it was merely a diversion of the accompaniment." Now 
there was loyal service to a sovereign !' 

'You are certainly an angel!' exclaimed Whitmonby. 
' I swallow the story, and leave it to digestion to discover 
the appositeness. Whatever tuneful instrument one of 
your friends possesses shall solace your slumbers or batter 
the pate of your enemy. But discourage the habitual 
serenader.' 

'The musician you must mean is due here now, by 
appointment to meet you,' said Diana, and set him 
momentarily agape with the name of Mr. Percy Dacier. 

That was the origin of the alliance between the young 
statesman and a newspaper editor. Whitmonby, accept- 
ing proposals which suited him, quitted the house, after 
an hour of political talk, no longer inclined to hint at the 
'habitual serenader,' but very ready to fall foul of those 
who did, as he proved when the numbers buzzed openly. 
Times were masculine; the excitement on the eve of so 
great a crisis, and Diana's comprehension of it and fine 
heading cry, put that weak matter aside. Moreover, he 
was taught to suppose, himself as welcome a guest as 
Dacier; and the cook could stand criticism; the wines — 
wonderful to say of a lady's table — were trusty ; the talk, 
on the political evenings and the social and anecdotal 
supper-nights, ran always in perfect accord with his ideal 
of the conversational orchestra : an improvized harmony, 
unmatched elsewhere. She did not, he considered, so 
perfectly assort her dinner-guests ; that was her one fault. 
She had therefore to strain her adroitness to cover their 
deficiencies and fuse them. But what other woman 
could have done it ! She led superbly. If an Irishman 
was present, she kept him from overflooding, managed to 



A LITTLE DINNER AND AN AFTERTASTE 351 

extract just the flavour of him, the smack of salt. She 
did even, at Whitmonby's table, on a red-letter Sunday 
evening, in concert with him and the Dean, bring down 
that cataract, the Bodleian, to the levels of interchanging 
dialogue by seasonable touches, inimitably done, and 
never done before. Sullivan Smith, unbridled in the 
middle of dinner, was docile to her. ' Irishmen,' she said, 
pleading on their behalf to Whitmonby, who pronounced 
the race too raw for an Olympian feast, ' are invaluable if 
you hang them up to smoke and cure ' ; and the master 
of social converse could not deny that they were respon- 
sive to her magic. The supper-nights were mainly de- 
voted to Percy's friends. He brought as many as he 
pleased, and as often as it pleased him ; and it was her 
pride to provide Cleopatra banquets for the lover whose 
anxieties were soothed by them, and to whom she sacri- 
ficed her name willingly in return for a generosity that 
certain chance whispers of her heart elevated to the pitch 
of measureless. 

So they wore through the Session and the Autumn, 
clouds heavier, the League drumming, the cry of Ireland 
' ominously Banshee,' as she wrote to Emma. 



CHAPTER XXX 

IN WHICH THERE IS A TASTE OF A LITTLE DINNEE AND 
AN AFTERTASTE 

' But Tony lives !' Emma Dunstane cried, on her solitary 
height, with the full accent of envy marking the verb; 
and when she wrote enviously to her friend of the life 
among bright intelligences, and of talk worth hearing, it 
was a happy signification that health, frail though it might 



352 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

be, had grown importunate for some of the play of life. 
Diana sent her word to name her day, and she would have 
her choicest to meet her dearest. They were in the early 
days of December, not the best of times for improvized 
gatherings. Emma wanted, however, to taste them as 
they cropped ; she was also, owing to her long isolation, 
timid at a notion of encountering the pick of the London 
world, prepared by Tony to behold ' a wonder more than 
worthy of them,' as her friend unadvisedly wrote. That 
was why she came unexpectedly, and for a mixture of 
reasons, went to an hotel. Fatality designed it so. She 
was reproached, but she said : 'You have to write or you 
entertain at night ; I should be a clog and fret you. My 
hotel is Maitland's; excellent; I believe I am to lie on 
the pillow where a crowned head reposed ! You will 
perceive that I am proud as well as comfortable. And I 
would rather meet your usual set of guests.' 

'The reason why I have been entertaining at night is, 
that Percy is harassed and requires enlivening,' said 
Diana. 'He brings his friends. My house is open to 
them, if it amuses him. What the world says, is past a 
thought. I owe him too much.' 

Emma murmured that the world would soon be 
pacified. 

Diana shook her head. 'The poor man is better ; able 
to go about his affairs ; and I am honestly relieved. It 
lays a spectre. As for me, I do not look ahead. I serve 
as a kind of secretary to Percy. I labour at making 
abstracts by day, and at night preside at my supper- 
table. You would think it monotonous; no incident 
varies the course we run. I have no time to ask whether 
it is happiness. It seems to bear a resemblance.' 

Emma replied: 'He may be everything you tell me. 
He should not have chosen the last night of the Opera to 
go to your box and sit beside you till the fall of the 



A LITTLE DINNER AND AN AFTERTASTE 353 

curtain. The presence at the Opera of a man notoriously 
indifferent to music was enough in itself.' 

Diana smiled with languor. 'You heard of that? 
But the Opera was The Puritani, my favourite. And he 
saw me sitting in Lady Pennon's box alone. We were 
compromised neck-deep already. I can kiss you, my own 
Emmy, till I die ; but what the world says, is what the 
wind says. Besides he has his hopes. ... If I am 
blackened ever so thickly, he can make me white. Dear 
me ! if the world knew that he comes here almost nightly ! 
It will; and does it matter? I am his in soul; the rest 
is waste-paper — a half-printed sheet.' 

'Provided he is worthy of such devotion !' 

' He is absolute worthiness. He is the prince of men : — 
I dread to say, mine ! for fear. But Emmy will not judge 
him to-morrow by contrast with more voluble talkers. — ^I 
can do anything but read poetry now. That Mils me ! — 
See him through me. In nature, character, intellect, he 
has no rival. Whenever I despond — and it comes now 
and then — I rebuke myself with this one admonition: 
Simply to have known him ! Admit that for a woman to 
find one who is worthy among the opposite creatures, is a 
happy termination of her quest, and in some sort dis- 
misses her to the Shades, an uncomplaining ferry-bird. 
If my end were at hand I should have no cause to lament 
it. We women miss life only when we have to confess we 
have never met the man to reverence.' 

Emma had to hear a very great deal of Mr. Percy. 
Diana's comparison of herself to 'the busy bee at a 
window-pane,' was more in her old manner; and her 
friend would have hearkened to the marvels of the gentle- 
man less unrefreshed, had it not appeared to her that her 
Tony gave in excess for what was given in return. She 
hinted her view. 

' It is expected of our sex,' Diana said. 



354 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

The work of busy bee at a window-pane had at any rate 
not spoilt her beauty, though she had voluntarily, profit- 
lessly, become this man's drudge, and her sprightly fancy, 
her ready humour and darting look all round in discussion, 
were rather deadened. 

But the loss was not perceptible in the circle of her 
guests. Present at a dinner little indicating the last, were 
Whitmonby, in lively trim for shuffling, dealing, cutting, 
trumping or drawing trumps; Westlake, polishing epi- 
grams under his eyelids ; Henry WUmers, who timed an 
anecdote to strike as the passing hour without freezing the 
current; Sullivan Smith, smoked, cured and ready to 
flavour; Percy Dacier, pleasant listener, measured 
speaker ; and young Arthur Rhodes, the neophyte of the 
hostess's training ; of whom she had said to Emma, ' The 
dear boy very kindly serves to frank an unlicenced widow' ; 
and whom she prompted and made her utmost of, with her 
natural tact. These she mixed and leavened. The talk 
was on high levels and low; an enchantment to Emma 
Dunstane : now a story ; a question opening new routes ; 
sharp sketches of known personages ; a paradox shot by 
laughter as soon as uttered ; and all so smoothly ; not a 
shadow of the dominant holder-forth or a momentary 
prospect of dead flats; the mellow ring of appositeness 
being the concordant note of deliveries running linked as 
they flashed, and a tolerant philosophy of the sage in the 
world recurrently the keynote. 

Once only had Diana to protect her nurseling. He cited 
a funny line from a recent popular volume of verse, in 
perfect ^ propos, looking at Sullivan Smith ; who replied, 
that the poets had become too many for him, and he read 
none now. Diana said : ' There are many Alexanders, 
but Alexander of Macedon is not dwarfed by the number.' 
She gave him an opening for a smarter reply, but he lost 
it in a comment — against Whitmonby's cardinal rule: 



A LITTLE DINNER AND AN AFTERTASTE 355 

' The neatest turn of the wrist that ever swung a hero to 
crack a crown!' and he bowed to young Rhodes : 'I '11 
read your versicler to-morrow morning early.' The latter 
expressed a fear that the hour was too critical for poetry. 

'I have taken the dose at a very early hour/ said 
Whitmonby, to bring conversation to the flow again, 
' and it effaced the critical mind completely.' 

'But did not sUence the critical nose,' observed West- 
lake. 

Wilmers named the owner of the longest nose in Europe. 

'Potentially, indeed a critic!' said Diana. 

'Nights beside it must be fearful, and good matter for 
a divorce, if the poor dear lady could hale it to the doors 
of the Vatican!' Sullivan Smith exclaimed. 'But there's 
character in noses.' 

'Calculable by inches?' Dacier asked. 

'More than in any other feature,' said Lady Dunstane. 
'The Riffords are all prodigiously gifted and amusing: 
suspendens omnia naso. It should be prayed for in 
families.' 

'Totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum,' rejoined Whit- 
monby. 'Lady Isabella was reading the tale of the 
German princess, who had a sentinel stationed some hun- 
dred yards away to whisk off the flies, and she owned to 
me that her hand instinctively travelled upward.' 

' Candour is the best concealment, when one has to carry 
a saddle of absurdity,' said Diana. 'Touchstone's "poor 
thing, but mine own," is godlike in its enveloping fold.' 

'The most comforting sermon ever delivered on prop- 
erty in poverty,' said Arthur Rhodes. 

Westlake assented. 'His choice of Audrey strikes me 
as an exhibition of the sure instinct for pasture of the 
philosophical jester in a forest.' 

'With nature's woman, if he can find her, the urban 
seems equally at home,' said Lady Dunstane. 



356 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Baron Pawle is an example/ added Wtitmonby. 'His 
cook is a pattern wife to him. I heard him say at table 
that she was responsible for all except the wines. "I 
wouldn't have them on my conscience, with a Judge!" 
my lady retorted.' 

'When poor Madame de Jacquilres was dying,' said 
WUmers, 'her confessor sat by her bedside, prepared for 
his ministrations. " Pour commencer, mon ami, jamais j'e 
n'aifait rien hors nature.'" 

Lord Wadaster had uttered something tolerably simi- 
lar: 'I am a sinner, and in good society.' Sir Abraham 
Hartiston, a minor satellite of the Regent, diversified 
this : 'I am a sinner, and go to good society.' Madame 
la Comtesse de la Roche-Aigle, the cause of many deaths, 
declared it unwomanly to fear anything save 'les reve- 
nants.' Yet the countess could say the pretty thing: 
'Foot on a flower, then think of me !' 
' 'Sentimentality puts up infant hands for absolution,' 
> said Diana. 

'But tell me,' Lady Dunstane inquired generally, 'why 
men are so much happier than women in laughing at their 
spouses ? ' 

They are hiunaner, was one dictum; they are more 
frivolous, ironically another. 

' It warrants them for blowing the bugle-horn of mascu- 
line superiority night and morning from the castle-walls,' 
Diana said. 

'I should imagine it is for joy of heart that they stUl 
have cause to laugh !' said Westlake. 

On the other hand, are women really pained by having 
to laugh at their lords? Curious little speeches flying 
about the great world, afiirmed the contrary. But the 
fair speakers were chartered libertines, and their laugh 
admittedly had a biting acid. The parasite is concerned 
in the majesty of the tree. 



A LITTLE DINNER AND AN AFTERTASTE 357 

'We have entered Botany Bay,' Diana said to Emma; 
who answered: 'A metaphor is the Deus ex machine of 
an argument' ; and Whitmonby, to lighten a shadow of 
heaviness, related allusively an anecdote of the Law- 
Courts. Sullivan Smith begged permission to 'black 
cap' it with Judge FitzGerald's sentence upon a convicted 
criminal: 'Your plot was perfect but for One above.' 
Dacier cited an execrable impromptu line of the Chief of 
the Opposition in Parliament. The Premier, it was re- 
marked, played him like an angler his fish on the hook; 
or say, Mr. Serjeant Rufus his witness in the box. 

'Or a French journalist an English missionary,' said 
Westlake ; and as the instance was recent it was relished. 

The talk of Premiers offered Whitmonby occasion for a 
flight to the Court of Vienna and Kaimitz. Wilmers told 
a droll story of Lord Busby's missing the Embassy there. 
Westlake furnished a sample of the tranquil sententious- 
ness of Busby's brother Robert during a stormy debate in 
the House of Conmions. 

'I remember,' Dacier was reminded, 'hearing him say, 
when the House resembled a Chartist riot, " Let us stand 
aside and meditate on Life. If Youth could know, in the 
season of its reaping of the Pleasures, that it is but sowing 
Doctor's bills!'" 

Latterly a malady had supervened, and Bob Busby had 
retired from the universal to the special ; — ^his mysterious 
case. 

'Assure him, that is endemic. He may be cured of his 
desire for the exposition of it,' said Lady Dunstane. 

Westlake chimed with her: 'Yes, the charm in dis- 
coursing of one's case is over when the individual appears 
no longer at odds with Providence.' 

'But then we lose our Tragedy,' said Whitmonby. 

' Our Comedy too,' added Diana. ' We must consent to 
Jse Busbied for the sake of the instructive recreations.' 



358 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'A curious idea, though/ said Sullivan. Smith, 'that 
some of the_ grand instiTJ^tive^^figm-es wer^^^ day 

""colosialjbores ]' 

^ 'So you see the marvel of the poet's craft at last?' 
Diana smiled on him, and he vowed : ' I '11 read nothing 
else for a month !' Young Rhodes bade him beware of a 
deluge in proclaiming it. 

They rose from table at ten, with the satisfaction of 
knowing that they had not argued, had not wrangled, had 
never stagnated, and were digestingly refreshed; as it 
should be among grown members of the civilized world, 
who mean to practise philosophy, making the hour of the 
feast a balanced recreation and a regeneration of body and 
mind. 

'Evenings like these are worth a pilgrimage,' Emma 
said, embracing Tony outside the drawing-room door. ' I 
am so glad I came : and if I am strong enough, invite me 
again in the Spring. To-morrow early I start for Copsley, 
to escape this London air. I shall hope to have you there 
soon.' 

She was pleased by hearing Tony ask her whether she 
did not think that Arthur Rhodes had borne himself well ; 
for it breathed of her simply friendly soul. 

The gentlemen followed Lady Dunstane in a troop, 
Dacier yielding perforce the last adieu to young Rhodes. 

Five minutes later Diana was in 'her dressing-room, 
where she wrote at night, on the rare occasions now when 
she was left free for composition. Beginning to dwell on 
The Man of Two Minds, she glanced at the woman like- 
wise divided, if not similarly ; and she sat brooding. She 
did not accuse her marriage. of being th e first fatal step : 
jher error, was iiiestep into Society without the wEere- 
/ withal to^ support ,hgE, position there. Girls of her, kind, 
airing their wings above the sphere of their birth, are cry- 
mgly adventuresses. As adventuresses they are treated. 



A LITTLE DINNER AND AN AFTERTASTE 359 

Vain to be shrewish with the world ! Rather let us turn 
and scold our nature for irreflectively rushing to the cream 
and honey ! Had she subsisted on her small income in a 
country cottage, this task of writing would have been 
holiday. Or better, if, as she preached to Mary Paynham, 
she had apprenticed herself to some productive craft. The 
simplicity of the life of labour looked beautiful. What 
will not look beautiful contrasted with the fly in the web? 
She had chosen to be one of the flies of life. 

Instead of running to composition, her mind was elo- 
quent with a sermon to Arthur Rhodes, in Redworth's 
vein; more sympathetically, of course. 'For I am not 
one of the lecturing Mammonites !' she could say. ■ 

She was far from that. Penitentially, in the thick of 
her disdain of the arrogant money-getters, she pulled out 
a drawer where her bank-book lay, and observed it con- 
templatively ; jotting down a reflection before the dread 
book of facts was opened : 'Gaze on the moral path you 
should have taken, you are asked for courage to commit a 
sanctioned suicide, by walking back to it stripped — a 
skeleton self.' She sighed forth : ' But I have no courage : 
I never had !' 

The book revealed its tale in a small pencilled compu- 
tation of the bank-clerk's, on the peccant side. Credit 
presented many pages blanks. She seemed to have with- 
drawn from the struggle with such a partner. 

It signified an immediate appeal to the usurers, unless 
the publisher could be persuaded, with three parts of the 
book in his hands, to come to the rescue. Work ! roared 
old Debit, the sinner turned slavedriver. 

Diana smoothed her wrists, compressing her lips not to 
laugh at the simulation of an attitude of combat. She 
took up her pen. 

And strange to think, she could have flowed away at 
once on the stuff that Danvers delighted to read ! — wicked 



360 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

princes, rogue noblemen, titled wantons, daisy and lily 
innocents, traitorous marriages, murders, a gallows dang- 
ling a corpse dotted by a moon, and a woman bowed be- 
neath. She could have written, with the certainty that in 
the upper and the middle as well as in the lower classes 
of the country, there would be a multitude to read that 
stuff, so cordially, despite the gaps between them, are 
they one in their literary tastes. And why should they 
not read it? Her present mood was a craving for excite- 
ment ; for incident, wild action, the primitive machinery 
of our species ; any amount of theatrical heroics, pathos, 
and clown-gabble. A panorama of scenes came sweeping 
round her. 

She was, however, harnessed to a different kind of 
vehicle, and had to drag it. The sound of the house-door 
shutting, imagined perhaps, was a fugitive distraction. 
Now to animate The Man of Two Minds ! 

He is courting, but he is burdened with the task of 
j tasks. He has an ideal of womanhood and of the union 
' of couples : a delicacy extreme as his attachment : and he 
must induce the lady to school herself to his ideal, not 
allowing her to suspect him less devoted to her person; 
while she, an exacting idol, will drink any quantity of 
idealization as long as he starts it from a full acceptance 
of her acknowledged qualities. Diana could once have 
tripped the scene along airily. She stared at the opening 
sentence, a heavy bit of moralized manufacture, fit to yoke 
beside that on her view of her bank-book. 

'It has come to this — ^I have no head,' she cried. 

And is our public likely to muster the slightest taste for 
comic analysis that does not tumble to farce ? The doubt 
reduced her whole MS. to a leaden weight, composed for 
sinking. Percy's addiction to burlesque was a further 
hindrance, for she did not perceive how her comedy could 
be strained to gratify it. 



GREAT POLITICAL NEWS 361 

There was a knock, and Danvers entered. 

' You have apparently a liking for late hours/ observed 
her mistress. ' I told you to go to bed.' 

'It is Mr. Dacier,' said Danvers. 

'He wishes to see me?' 

'Yes, ma'am. He apologized for disturbing you.' 

' He must have some good reason.' 

What could it be ! Diana's glass approved her appear- 
ance. She pressed the black swell of hair above her 
temples, rather amazed, curious, inclined to a beating of 
the heart. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

A CHAPTER CONTAINING GREAT POLITICAL NEWS AND 
THEREWITH AN INTRUSION OF THE LOVE-GOD 

Dacier was pacing about the drawing-room, as in a place 
too narrow for him. 

Diana stood at the door. 'Have you forgotten to tell 
me anything I ought to know?' 

He came up to her and shut the door softly behind her, 
holding her hand. 'You are near it. I returned . . . 
But tell me first : — You were slightly under a shadow this 
evening, dejected.' 

'Did I show it?' 

She was growing a little suspicious, but this cunning 
touch of lover-like interest dispersed the shade. 

'To me you did.' 

'It was unpardonable to let it be seen.' 

'No one else could have observed it.' 

Her woman's heart was thrilled ; for she had concealed 
the dejection from Emma. 

'It was nothing,' she said; 'a knot in the book I am 



362 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

writing. We poor "authors are worried now and then. 
But you?' 

His face rippled by degrees brightly, to excite a reflec- 
tion in hers. 

'Shall I tune you with good news? I think it will 
excuse me for coming back.' 

'Very good news?' 

'Brave news, as far as it goes.' 

'Then it concerns you!' 

'Me, you, the country.' 

'Oh! do I guess?' cried Diana. ' But speak, pray ; I 
burn.' 

'What am I to have for telling it?' 

'Put no price. You know my heart. I guess — or 
fancy. It relates to your Chief ? ' 

Dacier smiled in a way to show the lock without the 
key ; and she was insensibly drawn nearer to him, specu- 
lating on the smile. 

'Try again,' said he, keenly appreciating the blindness 
to his motive of her studious dark eyes, and her open- 
lipped breathing. 

' Percy ! I must be right.' 

'Well, you are. He has decided !' 

' Oh ! that is the bravest possible. When did you 
hear?' 

'He informed me of his final decision this afternoon.' 

' And you were charged with the secret all the evening, 
and betrayed not a sign ! I compliment the diplomatic 
statesman. But when will it be public ? ' 

'He calls Parliament together the first week of next 
month.' 

'The proposal is — ? No more compromises !' 

'Total!' 

Diana clapped hands; and her aspect of enthusiasm 
was intoxicating. 'He is a wise man and a gallant 



GREAT POLITICAL NEWS 363 

Minister ! And while you were reading me through, I was 
blind to you,' she added meltingly. 

' I have not made too much of it ? ' said he. 

'Indeed you have not.' 

She was radiant with her dark lightnings, yet visibly 
subject to him under the spell of the news he had artfully 
lengthened out to excite and overbalance her: — and her 
enthusiasm was all pointed to his share in the altered 
situation, as he well knew and was flattered in knowing. 

'So Tony is no longer dejected? I thought I could 
freshen you and get my excuse.' 

' Oh ! a high wind will make a dead leaf fly like a bird. 
I soar. Now I do feel proud. I have longed for it — to 
have you leading the country : not tugged at like a 
waggon with a treble team uphill. We two are a month 
in advance of all England. You stand by him ? — only to 
hear it, for I am siu-e of it ! ' 

' We stand or fall together.' 

Her glowing look doated on the faithful lieutenant. 

'And if the henchman is my hero, I am but a waiting- 
woman. But I must admire his leader.' 

'Tony!' 

'Ah ! no,' she joined her hands, wondering whither her 
armed majesty had fled; 'no softness! no payments! 
Flatter me by letting me think you came to a head — ^not a 
silly woman's heart, with one name on it, as it has not to 
betray. I have been frank; you need no proofs . . .' 
The supplicating hands left her figure an easy prey to the 
storm, and were crushed in a knot on her bosom. She 
could only shrink. 'Ah! Percy . . . you undo my praise 
of you — my pride in receiving you.' 

They were speechless perforce. 

'You see, Tony, my dearest, I am flesh and blood after 
all.' 

'You drive me to be ice and door-bolts !' 



364 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Her eyes broke over him reproachfully. 

'It is not so much to grant,' he murmured. 

'It changes everything between us.' 

'Not me. It binds me the faster.' 

'It makes me a loathsome hypocrite.' 

'But, Tony ! is it so much?' 

' Not if you value it low.' 

'But how long do you keep me in this rag-puppet's state 
of suspension?' 

' Patience.' 

'Dangling and swinging day and night I' 

'The rag-puppet shall be animated and repaid if I 
have life. I wish to respect my hero. Have a little 
mercy. Our day will come: perhaps as wonderfully 
as this wonderful news. My friend, drop your hands. 
Have you forgotten who I am? I want to think, 
Percy!' 

'But you are mine.' 

'You are abasing your own.' 

'No, by heaven!' 

'Worse, dear friend; you are lowering yourself to the 
woman who loves you.' 

' You must imagine me superhuman.' 

'I worship you — or did.' 

'Be reasonable, Tony. What harm! Surely a trifle of 
recompense ? Just to let me feel I live ! You own you 
love me. Then I am your lover.' 

'My dear friend Percy, when I have consented to be 
your paramour, this kind of treatment of me will not want 
apologies.' 

The plain speaking from the wound he dealt her was 
effective with a gentleman who would never have enjoyed 
his privileges had he been of a nature unsusceptible to her 
distinct wish and meaning. 

He sighed. 'You know how my family bother me. 



GREAT POLITICAL NEWS 365 

The woman I want, the only woman I could marry, I 
can't have.' 

' You have her in soul.' 

' Body and soul, it must be ! I believe you were made 
without fire.' 

'Perhaps. The element is omitted with some of us: 
happily, sonie think. Now we can converse. There 
seems to be a measurement of distances required before 
men and women have a chance with their brains : — or 
before a man will imderstand that he can be advised and 
seconded. When wiQ the Cabinet be consulted?' 

' Oh, a few days. Promise me . . . ' 

'Any honourable promise !' 

' You will not keep me waiting longer than the end of the 
Session?' 

'Probably there will be an appeal to the coimtry.' 

'In any case, promise me : have some compassion.' 

'Ah, the compassion ! You do not choose your words, 
Percy, or forget who is the speaker.' 

' It is Tony who forgets the time she has kept her lover 
dangling. Promise, and I will wait.' 

' You hurt my hand, sir.' 

'I could crack the knuckles. Promise!' 

'Come to me to-morrow.' 

'To-morrow you are in your armour — ^triple brass ! AH 
creation cries out for now. We are mounted on barbs and 
you talk of ambling.' 

'Arthur Rhodes might have spoken that.' 

' Rhodes !' he shook off the name in disgust. ' Pet him 
as much as you like ; don't . . . ' he was unable to phrase 
his objection. 

She cooled him further with eulogies of the chevaleresque 
manner of speaking which young Mr. Rhodes could 
assume; till for very wrath of blood — not jealousy: he 
had none of any man, with her; and not passion; the 



366 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

little he had was a fitful gust — he punished her coldness 
by taking what hastily could be gathered. 

Her shape was a pained submission ; and she thought : 
Where is the woman who ever knows a man ! — as women 
do think when one of their artifices of evasion with a 
lover, or the trick of imposingness, has apparently been 
subduing him. But the pain was less than previously, 
for she was now mistress of herself, fearing no abysses. 

Dacier released her quickly, saying: 'If I come to- 
morrow, shall I have the promise ? ' 

She answered : ' Be sure I shall not lie.' 

'Why not let me have it before I go?' 

' My friend, to tell you the truth, you have utterly dis- 
tracted me.' 

'Forgive me if I did hurt your hand.' 

'The hand? You might strike it off.' 

'I can't be other than a mortal lover, Tony. There 's: 
the fact.' 

'No; the fault is mine when I am degraded. I trust 
you : there 's the error.' 

The trial for Dacier was the sight of her quick-lifting 
bosom under the mask of cold language: an attraction 
and repulsion in union ; a delirium to any lover impelled 
to trample on weak defences. But the evident pain he 
inflicted moved his pity, which helped to restore his 
conception of the beauty of her character. She stood 
so nobly meek. And she was never prudish, only self- 
respecting. Although the great news he imparted had 
roused an ardent thirst for holiday and a dash out of 
harness, and he could hardly check it, he yielded her 
the lead. 

'Trust me you may,' he said. 'But you know 
we are one. The world has given you to me, me to 
you. Why should we be asunder ? There 's no reason 
in it.' 



GREAT POLITICAL NEWS 367 

She replied : 'But still I wish to bum a little incense 
in honour of myself, or else I cannot live. It is the 
truth. You make Death my truer friend, and at this 
moment I would willingly go out. You would respect 
me more dead than alive. I could better pardon you 
too.' 

He pleaded for the red mouth's pardon, remotely irri- 
tated by the suspicion that she swayed him overmuch: 
and he had deserved the small benevolences and donations 
of love, crumbs and heavenly dews ! 

'Not a word of pardon,' said Diana. 'I shall never 
count an iota against you "in the dark backward and 
abysm of Time." This news is great, and I have sunk 
beneath it. Come to-morrow. Then we wUl speak upon 
whatever you can prove rational. The hour is getting 
late.' 

Dacier took a draught of her dark beauty with the 
crimson he had kindled over the cheeks. Her lips were 
firmly closed, her eyes grave ; dry, but seeming to waver 
tearfuUy in their heavy fulness. He could not doubt her 
love of him; and although chafing at the idea that she 
swayed him absurdly — beyond the credible ia his world of 
wag-tongues — ^he resumed his natural soberness, as a gar- 
ment, not very imeasily fitting : whence it ensued — for 
so are we influenced by the garb we put on us — that his 
manly sentiment of revolt ia being condemned to play 
second, was repressed by the refreshment breathed on him 
from her lofty character, the pure jewel proffered to his 
inward ownership. 

'Adieu for the night,' he said, and she snuled. He 
pressed for a pressure of her hand. She brightened her 
snule instead, and said only : ' Good night, Percy.' 



368 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 



CHAPTER XXXII 

WHEREIN WE BEHOLD A GIDDY TURN AT THE SPECTRAIj 
CROSSWAYS 

Danvers accompanied Mr. Dacier to the house-door. 
CHmbing the stairs, she found her mistress in the drawing- 
room still. 

'You must be cold, ma'am,' she said, glancing at the 
fire-grate. 

'Is it a frost?' said Diana. 

'It 's midnight and midwinter, ma'am.' 

'Has it struck midnight?' 

The mantel-piece clock said five minutes past. 

'You had better go to bed, Danvers, or you will lose 
your bloom. Stop; you are a faithful soul. Great 
things are happening and I am agitated. Mr. Dacier 
has told me news. He came back purposely.' 

'Yes, ma'am,' said Danvers. 'He had a great deal to 
tell?' 

'Well, he had.' Diana coloured at the first tentative 
impertinence she had heard from her maid. 'What is 
the secret of you, Danvers? What attaches you to me?' 

' I 'm sure I don't know, ma'am. I 'm romantic' 

'And you think me a romantic object?' 

'I 'm sure I can't say, ma'am. I 'd rather serve you 
than any other lady ; and I wish you was happy.' 

'Do you suppose I am unhappy?' 

'I 'm sure — but if I may speak, ma'am : so handsome 
and clever a lady ! and young ! I can't bear to see it.' 

'Tush, you silly woman. You read your melting tales, 
and imagine. I must go and write for money : it is my 
profession. And I haven't an idea in my head. This 



A GIDDY TURN 369 

news disturbs me. Ruin if I don't write ; so I must. — I 
can't !' 

Diana beheld the ruin. She clasped the great news for 
succour. Great indeed : and known but to her of all the 
outer world. She was ahead of all — ahead of Mr. Tonans ! 

The visionary figure of Mr. Tonans petrified by the 
great news, drinking it, and confessing her ahead of him 
in the race for secrets, arose toweringly. She had not ever 
seen the Editor in his den at midnight. With the rumble 
of his machinery about him, and fresh matter arriving and 
flying into the printing-press, it must be like being in the 
very furnace-hissing of Events : an Olympian Coimcil held 
in Vulcan's smithy. Consider the bringing to the Jove 
there news of such magnitude as to stupefy him ! He, too, 
who had admonished her rather sneeringly for staleness in 
her information. But this news, great though it was, and 
throbbing like a heart plucked out of a breathing body, 
throbbed but for a brief term, a day or two ; after which, 
great though it was, immense, it relapsed into a common 
organ, a possession of the multitude, merely historically 
curious. 

'You are not afraid of the streets at night?' Diana 
said to her maid, as they were going upstairs. 

' Not when we 're driving, ma'am,' was the answer. 

The Man of Two Minds faced his creatrix in the 
dressing-room, still delivering that most ponderous of 
sentences — a smothering pillow ! 

I have mistaken my vocation, thought Diana : I am 
certainly the flattest proser who ever penned a line. 

She sent Danvers into the bedroom on a trifling errand, 
unable to bear the woman's proximity, and oddly un- 
willing to dismiss her. 

She pressed her hands on her eyelids. Would Percy 
have humiliated her so if he had respected her? He took 
advantage of the sudden loss of her habitual queenly 



370 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

initiative at the wonderful news to debase and stain their 
intimacy. The lover's behaviour was judged by her 
sensations : she felt humiliated, plucked violently from 
the throne where she had long been sitting securely, very 
proudly.. That was at an end. If she was to be better 
than the loathsomest of hypocrites, she must deny him 
his admission to the house. And then what was her life ! 

Something that was pressing her low, she knew not how, 
and left it unquestioned, incited her to exaggerate the 
indignity her pride had suffered. She was a dethroned 
woman. Deeper within, an unmasked actress, she said. 
Oh, she forgave him ! But clearly he took her for the 
same as other women consenting to receive a privileged 
visitor. And sounding herself to the soul, was she so 
magnificently better? Her face flamed. She hugged 
her arms at her breast to quiet the beating, and dropped 
them when she surprised herself embracing the memory. 
He had brought political news, and treated her as — ^name 
the thing! Not designedly, it might be: her position 
invited it. 'The world had given her to him.' The 
world is always a prophet of the mire; but the world 
is no longer an utterly mistaken world. She shook be- 
fore it. 

She asked herself why Percy or the world should think 
highly of an adventuress, who was a denounced wife, a 
wretched author, and on the verge of bankruptcy. She 
was an adventuress. When she held The Crossways she 
had at least a bit of solid footing: now gone. An 
adventuress without an idea in her head : witness her 
dullard, The Man of Two Minds, at his work of sermonizing 
his mistress. 

The tremendous pressure upon our consciousness of the 
material cause, when we find ourselves cast among the 
breakers of moral difficulties and endeavour to elude that 
mud-visaged monster, chiefly by feigning unconsciousness. 



\ 



A GIDDY TURN 371 

was an experience of Diana's, in the crisis to which she was 
wrought. Her wits were too acute, her nature too direct, 
to permit of a lengthened confusion. She laid the scourge 
on her flesh smartly. — ^I gave him these privileges because 
I am weak as the weakest, base as my enemies proclaim V 
me. I covered my woman's vOe weakness with an air of 
intellectual serenity that he, choosing his moment, tore 
away, exposing me to myself, as well as to him, the most , 
ordinary of reptiles. I kept up a costly household for the-^ 
sole purpose of seeing him and having him near me. 
Hence this bitter need of money ! — Either it must be 
money or disgrace. Money would assist her quietly to 
amend and complete her work. Yes, and this want of 
money, in a review of the last two years, was the material 
cause of her recklessness. It was, her revived and up- 
rising pudency declared, the principal, the only cause. 
Mere want of money. 

And she had a secret worth thousands ! The secret of 
a day, no more : anybody's secret after some four and 
twenty hours. 

She smiled at the fancied elongation and stare of the 
features of Mr. Tonans in his editorial midnight den. 

What if he knew it and could cap it with something 
novel and stranger? Hardly. But it was an inciting 
suggestion. 

She began to tremble as a lightning-flash made visible 
her fortunes recovered, disgrace averted, hours of peace 
for composition stretching before her: a svunmer after- 
noon's vista. 

It seemed a duel between herself and Mr. Tonans, and 
she sure of her triumph — Diana victrix ! 

'Danvers!' she called. 

'Is it to undress, ma'am?' said the maid, entering to 
her. 

' You are not afraid of the streets, you tell me. I have 



372 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

to go down to the City, I think. It is urgent. Yes, I 
must go. If I were to impart the news to you, your head 
would be a tolling bell for a month.' 

'You will take a cab, ma'am.' 

'We must walk out to find one. I must go, though I 
should have to go on foot. Quick with bonnet and shawl ; 
muffle up warmly. We have never been out so late : but 
does it matter? You 're a brave soul, I 'm sure, and you 
shall have your fee.' 

' I don't care for money, ma'am.' 

'When we get home you shall kiss me.' 

Danvers clothed her mistress in furs and rich wrappings : 
Not paid for ! was Diana's desperate thought, and a wrong 
one ; but she had to seem the precipitated bankrupt and 
succeeded. She was near being it. The boiling of her 
secret carried her through the streets rapidly and un- 
observantly except of such small things as the glow of the 
lights on the pavements and the hushed cognizance of the 
houses, in silence to a thoroughfare where a willing cab- 
man was met. The destination named, he nodded alertly : 
he had driven gentlemen there at night from the House of 
Commons, he said. 

'Our Parliament is now sitting, and you drive ladies,' 
Diana replied. 

'I hope I know one, never mind the hour,' said he of 
the capes. 

He was bidden to drive rapidly. 

' Complexion a tulip : you do not often see a pale cab- 
man,' she remarked to Danvers, who began laughing, as 
she always expected to do on an excursion with her 
mistress. 

'Do you remember, ma'am, the cabman taking us to 
the coach, when you thought of going to the continent ? ' 

'And I went to The Crossways? I have forgotten 
him.' 



A GIDDY TURN 373 

'He declared you was so beautiful a lady he would 
drive you to the end of England for nothing.' 

'It must have been when I was paying him. Put it 
out of your mind, Danvers, that there are individual cab- 
men. They are the painted flowers of our metropolitan 
thoroughfares, and we gather them in rows.' 

'They have their feeltags, ma'am.' 

'Brandied feelings are not pathetic to me.' 

'I like to think kindly of them,' Danvers remarked, in 
reproof of her inhumanity; adding: 'They may over- 
turn us !' at which Diana laughed. 

Her eyes were drawn to a brawl of women and men in 
the street. 'Ah! that miserable sight !' she cried. 'It 
is the everlasting nightmare of London.' 

Danvers humped, femininely injured by the notice of it. 
She wondered her mistress should deign to. 

Rolling on between the blind and darkened houses, 
Diana transferred her sensations to them, and in a fit of 
the nerves imagined them beholding a funeral convoy 
without followers. 

They came in view of the domed cathedral, hearing, in 
a pause of the wheels, the bell of the hour. 'Faster! 
faster! my dear man,' Diana murmured, and they 
entered a small still square of many lighted windows. 

'This must be where the morrow is manufactured,' 
she said. 'Tell the man to wait. — Or rather it's the 
mirror of yesterday: we have to look backward to see 
forward in life.' 

She talked her cool philosophy to mask her excitement 
from herself. 

Her card, marked: 'Imperative — two minutes,' was 
taken up to Mr. Tonans. They ascended to the editorial 
ante-room. Doors opened and shut, hasty feet traversed 
the corridors, a dull hum in dumbness told of mighty 
business at work. Diana received the summons to the 



374 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

mighty head of the estabhshment. Danvers was left to 
speculate. She heard the voice of Mr. Tonans: 'Not 
more than two !' This was not a place for compliments. 
Men passed her, hither and yonder, cursorily noticing the 
presence of a woman. She lost, very strangely to her, 
the sense of her sex and became an object — a disregarded 
object. Things of more importance were about. Her 
feminine self-esteem was troubled ; all idea of attractive- 
ness expired. Here was manifestly a spot where women 
had dropped from the secondary to the cancelled stage of 
their extraordinary career in a world either blowing them 
aloft like soap-bubbles or quietly shelving them as super- 
numeraries. A gentleman — sweet vision ! — shot by to 
the editor's door, without even looking cursorily. He 
knocked. Mr. Tonans appeared and took him by the 
arm, dictating at a great rate; perceived Danvers, 
frowned at the female, and requested him to wait in the 
room, which the gentleman did, not once casting eye upon 
a woman. At last her mistress returned to her, escorted 
so far by Mr. Tonans, and he refreshingly bent his back to 
bow over her hand : so we have the satisfaction of know- 
ing that we are not such poor creatures after all ! Suffer- 
ing in person, Danvers was revived by the little show of 
homage to her sex. 

They descended the stairs. 

'You are not an Editor of a paper, but you may boast 
that you have been near the nest of one,' Diana said, 
when they resumed their seats in the cab. She breathed 
deeply from time to time, as if under a weight, or relieved 
of it, but she seemed animated, and she dropped now and 
again a funny observation of the kind that tickled Danvers 
and caused the maid to boast of her everywhere as better 
than a Play. 

At home, Danvers busied her hands to supply her 
mistress a cup of refreshing tea and a plate of biscuits. 



THE SPRINGING OF A MINE 375 

Diana had stunned herself with the strange weight of the 
expedition, and had not a thought. In spite of tea at 
that hour, she slept soundly through the remainder of 
the night, dreamlessly till late into the morning. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

EXHIBITS THE SPRINGING OF A MINE IN A 
NEWSPAPER ARTICLE 

The powers of harmony would seem to be tried to their 
shrewdest pitch when Politics and Love are planted to- 
gether in a human breast. This apparently opposite 
couple can nevertheless chant a very sweet accord, as was 
shown by Dacier on his homeward walk from Diana's 
house. Let Love lead, the God will make music of any 
chamber-comrade. He was able to think of affairs of 
State while feeling the satisfied thirst of the lover whose 
pride, irritated by confidential wild eulogies of the beauti- 
ful woman, had recently clamoured for proofs of his 
commandership. The impression she stamped on him at 
Copsley remained, but it could not occupy the foreground 
for ever. He did not object to play second to her sprightly 
wits in converse, if he had some warm testimony to his 
mastery over her blood. For the world had given her to 
him, enthusiastic friends had congratulated him: she 
had exalted him for true knightliness ; and he considered 
the proofs well earned, though he did not value them low. 
They were little by comparison. They lighted, instead 
of staining, her unparalleled high character. 

She loved him. Full surely did she love him, or such 
a woman would never have consented to brave the world ; 
once in their project of flight, and next, even more 



376 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

endearingly when contemplated, in the sacrifice of her good 
name; not omitting that fervent memory of her pained 
submission, but a palpitating submission, to his caress. 
She was in his arms again at the thought of it. He had 
melted her, and won the confession of her senses by a 
surprise, and he owned that never had woman been so 
vigilantly self-guarded or so watchful to keep her lover 
amused and aloof. Such a woman deserved long service. 
But then the long service deserved its time of harvest. 
Her surging look of reproach in submission pointed to the 
golden time, and as he was a man of honour, pledged to 
her for life, he had no remorse, and no scruple in determin- 
ing to exact her dated promise, on this occasion deliber- 
ately. She was the woman to be his wife; she was his 
mind's mate : they had hung apart in deference to mere 
scruples too long. During the fierce battle of the Session 
she would be his help, his fountain of counsel ; and she 
would be the rosy gauze- veiled more than cold helper and 
adviser, the being which would spur her womanly intelli- 
gence to acknowledge, on this occasion deliberately, the 
wisdom of the step. They had been so close to it ! She 
might call it madness then : now it was wisdom. Each 
had complete experience of the other, and each vowed 
the step must be taken. 

As to the secret communicated, he exulted in the 
pardonable cunning of the impulse turning him back to 
her house after the guests had gone, and the dexterous 
play of his bait on the line, tempting her to guess and quit 
her queenly guard. Though it had not been distinctly 
schemed, the review of it in that light added to the en- 
joyment. It had been dimly and richly conjectured as 
a hoped result. Small favours from her were really 
worth, thrice worth, the utmost from other women. They 
tasted the sweeter for the winning of them artfully — an 
honourable thing in love. Nature, rewarding the lover's 



THE SPRINGING OF A MINE 377 

ingenuity and enterprise, inspires him with old Greek 
notions of right and wrong: and love is indeed a fluid 
mercurial realm, continually shifting the principles of 
rectitude and larceny. As long as he means nobly, what, 
is there to condemn him ? Not she in her heart. She was. 
the presiding divinity. 

And she, his Tony, that splendid Diana, was the woman 
the world abused ! Whom wiU it not abuse ? 

The slough she would have to plunge in before he could 
make her his own with the world's consent, was already up 
to her throat. She must, and without further hesitation, 
be steeped, that he might drag her out, washed of the 
imputed defilement, and radiant, as she was in character. 
Reflection now said this ; not impulse. 

Her words rang through him. At every meeting she; 
said things to confound his estimate of the wits of women^ 
or be remembered for some spirited ring they had : — A 
high wind will make a dead leaf fly like a bird. He mur- 
mured it and flew with her. She quickened a vein of 
imagination that gave him entrance to a strangely 
brilliant sphere, above his own, where, she sustaining, he- 
too could soar; and he did, scarce conscious of walking 
home, undressing, falling asleep. 

The act of waking was an instantaneous recovery of 
his emotional rapture of the overnight ; nor was it a bar to 
graver considerations. His Chief had gone down to a. 
house in the country ; his personal business was to see and 
sound the followers of their party — ^after another sight of 
his Tony. She would be sure to counsel sagaciously ; she 
always did. She had a marvellous intuition of the natures 
of the men he worked with, solely from his chance de- 
scriptions of them; it was as though he started the bird 
and she transfixed it. And she should not have matter 
to rufile her smooth brows : that he swore to. She should 
sway him as she pleased, be respected after her prescribed 



378 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

manner. The promise must be exacted; nothing be- 
sides the promise. — You see, Tony, you cannot be less 
than Tony to me now, he addressed the gentle phantom 
of her. Let me have your word, and I am your servant 
till the Session ends. — ^Tony blushes her swarthy crimson : 
1 Diana, fluttering, rebukes her ; but Diana is the appeas- 
able Goddess ; Tony is the woman, and she loves him. 
/The glorious Goddess need not cut them adrift ; they can 
' show her a book of honest pages. 

Dacier could truthfully say he had worshipped, done 
knightly service to the beloved woman, homage to the 
aureole encircling her. Those friends of his, covertly 
congratulating him on her preference, doubtless thought 
him more privileged than he was ; but they did not know 
Diana ; and they were welcome, if they would only believe, 
to the knowledge that he was at the feet of this most 
sovereign woman. He despised the particular Satyr- 
world which, whatever the nature or station of the woman, 
crowns the desecrator, and bestows the title of Fool on the 
worshipper. He could have answered veraciously that 
she had kept him from folly. 

Nevertheless the term to service must come. In the 
assurance of the approaching term he stood braced against 
a blowing world ; happy as men are when their muscles 
are strung for a prize they pluck with the energy and aim 
of their whole force. 

Letters and morning papers were laid for him to peruse 
in his dressing-room. He read his letters before the bath. 
Not much public news was expected at the present season. 
While dressing, he turned over the sheets of Whitmonby's 
journal. Dull comments on stale things. Foreign news. 
Home news, with the leaders on them, identically dull. 
Behold the effect of Journalism : a witty man, sparkling 
overnight, gets into his pulpit and proses; because he 
must say something, and he really knows nothing. 



THE SPRINGING OF A MINE 379 

Journalists have an excessive overestimate of their influ- 
ence. They cannot, as Diana said, comparing them with 
men on the Pariiamentary platform, cannot feel they are 
aboard the big vessel; they can only strive to raise a 
breeze, or find one to swell ; and they cannot measure the 
stoutness or the greatness of the good ship England. 
Dacier's personal ambition was inferior to his desire to 
extend and strengthen his England. Parliament was the 
field, Government the office. How many conversations 
had passed between him and Diana on that patriotic 
dream ! She had often filled his drooping sails ; he 
owned it proudly : — and while the world, both the hoofed 
and the rectilinear portions, were biting at her character ! 
Had he fretted her self-respect? He blamed himself, 
but a devoted service must have its term. 

The paper of Mr. Tonans was reserved for perusal at 
breakfast. He reserved it because Tonans was an oppo- 
nent, tricksy and surprising now and then, amusing too ; 
unlikely to afford him serious reflections. The recent 
endeavours of his journal to whip the Govenunent-team 
to a right-about-face were annoying, preposterous. 
Dacier had admitted to Diana that Tonans merited the 
thanks of the country during the discreditable Railway 
mania, when his articles had a fine exhortative and pro- 
phetic twang, and had done marked good. Otherwise, as 
regarded the Ministry, the veering gusts of Tonans were 
objectionable: he 'raised the breeze' wantonly as well 
as disagreeably. Any one can whip up the populace if he 
has the instruments ; and Tonans frequently intruded on 
the Ministry's prerogative to govern. The journalist was 
bidding against the statesman. But such is the condition 
of a rapidly Radicalizing country! We must take it as 
it is. 

With a complacent, What now, Dacier fixed his in- 
different eyes on the first column of the leaders. 



380 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

He read, and his eyes grew horny. He jerked back at 
each sentence, electrified, staring. The article was shorter 
than usual. Total Repeal was named; the precise date 
when the Minister intended calling Parliament together to 
propose it. The 'Total Repeal' might be guess-work — 
an Editor's bold stroke ; but the details, the date, were 
significant of positive information. The Minister's def- 
inite and immediate instructions were exactly stated. 

Where could the fellow have got hold of that? Dacier 
asked the blank ceiling. 

He frowned at vacant comers of the room in an effort 
to conjure some speculation indicative of the source. 

Had his Chief confided the secret to another and a 
traitor? Had they been overheard in his library when 
the project determined on was put in plain speech? 

The answer was no, impossible, to each question. 

He glanced at Diana. She ? But it was past midnight 
when he left her. And she would never have betrayed 
him, never, never. To imagine it a moment was an 
injury to her. 

Where else could he look? It had been specially men- 
tioned in the communication as a secret by his Chief, who 
trusted him and no others. Up to the consultation with 
the Cabinet, it was a thing to be guarded like life itself. 
Not to a soul except Diana would Dacier have breathed 
syllable of any secret — ^and one of this weight ! 

He ran down the article again. There were the facts ; 
undeniable facts ; and they detonated with audible roar- 
ing and rounding echoes of them over England. How did 
they come there ? As well inquire how man came on the 
face of the earth. 

He had to wipe his forehead perpetually. Think as he 
would in exaltation of Diana to shelter himself, he was the 
accused. He might not be the guilty, but he had opened 
his mouth; and though it was to her only, and she, as 



THE SPRINGING OF A MINE 381 

Dunstane had sworn, true as steel, he could not escape 
condemnation. He had virtually betrayed his master. 
Diana would never betray her lover, but the thing was in 
the air as soon as uttered : and off to the printing-press ! 
Dacier's grotesque fancy under annoyance pictured a 
stream of small printer's devils in flight from his babbling 
lips. 

He consumed bits of breakfast, with a sour confession 
that a newspaper-article had hit him at last, and stun- 
ningly. 

Hat and coat were called for. The state of aimlessness 
in hot perplexity demands a show of action. Whither to 
go first was as obscure as what to do. Diana said of the 
Englishman's hat and coat, that she supposed they were 
to make him a walking presentment of the house he had 
shut up behind him. A shot of the eye at the glass con- 
firmed the likeness, but with a ruefully wry-faced re- 
pudiation of it internally: — Not so shut up! the reverse 
of that — a common babbler. 

However, there was no doubt of Diana. First he would 
call on her. The pleasantest dose in perturbations of the 
kind is instinctively taken first. She would console, 
perhaps direct him to guess how the secret had leaked. — 
But so suddenly, immediately ! It was inexplicable. 

Sudden and immediate consequences were experienced. 
On the steps of his house his way was blocked by the arri- 
val of Mr. Quintin Manx, who jumped out of a cab, 
bellowing interjections and interrogations in a breath. 
Was there anything in that article? He had read it at 
breakfast, and it had choked him. Dacier was due at a 
house and could not wait : he said, rather sharply, he was 
not responsible for newspaper articles. Quintin Manx, 
a senior gentleman and junior landowner, vowed that no 
Minister intending to sell the country should treat him as 
a sheep. The shepherd might go ; he would not carry his 



382 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

flock with him. But was there a twinkle of probability 
in the story ? . . . that article ! Dacier was unable to 
inform him; he was very hurried, had to keep an ap- 
pointment. 

'If I let you go, wiU you come and lunch with me at 
two?' said Quintin. 

To get rid of him, Dacier nodded and agreed. 

'Two o'clock, mind!' was bawled at his heels as he 
walked off with his long stride, unceremoniously leaving 
the pursy gentleman of sixty to settle with his cabman far 
to the rear. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

IN WHICH IT IS DARKLY SEEN HOW THE CRIMINAL'S JUDGE 
MAY BE love's CRIMINAL 

When we are losing balance on a precipice we do not 
think much of the thing we have clutched for support. 
Our balance is restored and we have not fallen; that is 
the comfortable reflection: we stand as others do, and 
we will for the future be warned to avoid the dizzy stations 
which cry for resources beyond a common equilibrium, 
and where a slip precipitates us to ruin. 

When, further, it is a woman planted in a burning blush, 
having to idealize her feminine weakness, that she may not 
rebuke herself for grovelling, the mean material acts by 
which she sustains a tottering position are speedily swal- 
lowed in the one pervading flame. She sees but an ashen 
curl of the path she has traversed to safety, if anything. 

Knowing her lover was to come in the morning, Diana's 
thoughts dwelt wholly upon the way to tell him, as 
tenderly as possible without danger to herself, that her 
time for entertaining was over until she had finished her 



THE CRIMINAL'S JUDGE LOVE'S CRIMINAL 383 

book; indefinitely, therefore. The apprehension of his 
complaining pricked the memory that she had something 
to forgive. He had sunk her in her own esteem by com- 
pelling her to see her woman's softness. But how high 
above all other men her experience of him could place him 
notwithstanding ! He had bowed to the figure of herself, 
dearer than herself, that she set before him : and it was 
a true figure to the world ; a too fictitious to any but the 
most knightly of lovers. She forgave; and a shudder 
seized her. — Snake ! she rebuked the delicious run of fire 
through her veins ; for she was not hke the idol women 
of imperishable tj^je, who are never for a twinkle the prey 
of the blood: statues created by man's common desire 
to impress upon the sex his possessing pattern of them 
as domestic decorations. 

When she entered the room to Dacier and they touched 
hands, she rejoiced in her coolness, without any other feel- 
ing or perception active. Not to be unkind, not too kind : 
this was her task. She waited for the passage of common- 
places. 

'You slept well, Percy?' 

'Yes; and you?' 

'I don't think I even dreamed.' 

They sat. She noticed the cloud on him and waited for 
his allusion to it, anxious concermng him simply. 

Dacier flung the hair off his temples. Words of 
Titanic formation were hurling in his head at journals 
and journalists. He muttered his disgust of them. 

'Is there anything to annoy you in the papers to-day?' 
she asked, and thought how handsome his face was in 
anger. 

The paper of Mr. Tonans was named by him. 'You 
have not seen it ? 

'I have not opened it yet.' 

He sprang up. 'The truth is, those fellows can now 



384 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

afford to buy right and left, corrupt every soul alive ! 
There must have been a spy at the keyhole. I 'm pretty 
certain — I could swear it was not breathed to any ear but 
mine; and there it is this morning in black and white.' 

' What is ? ' cried Diana, turning to him on her chair. 

' The thing I told you last night.' 

Her lips worked, as if to spell the thing. 'Printed, do 
you say?' she rose. 

'Printed. In a leading article, loud as a trumpet; a 
hue and cry running from end to end of the country. 
And my Chief has already had the satisfaction of seeing 
the secret he confided to me yesterday roared in all the 
thoroughfares this morning. They 've got the facts : 
his decision to propose it, and the date — the whole of it ! 
But who could have betrayed it ? ' 

For the first time since her midnight expedition she felt 
a sensation of the full weight of the deed. She heard 
thunder. 

She tried to disperse the growing burden by an inward 
summons to contempt of the journalistic profession, but 
nothing would come. She tried to minimize it, and her 
brain succumbed. Her views of the deed last night and 
now throttled reason in two contending clutches. The 
enormity swelled its dimensions, taking shape, and point- 
ing magnetically at her. She stood absolutely, amazedly, 
bare before it. 

'Is it of such very great importance?' she said, like 
one supplicating him to lessen it. 

'A secret of State? If you ask whether it is of great 
importance to me, relatively it is of course. Nothing 
greater. Personally my conscience is clear. I never 
mentioned it — couldn't have mentioned it — ^to any one 
but you. I 'm not the man to blab secrets. He spoke to 
me because he knew he could trust me. To tell you the 
truth, I 'm brought to a dead stop. I can't make a guess. 



THE CRIMINAL'S JUDGE LOVE'S CRIMINAL 385 

I 'm certain, from what he said, that he trusted me only 
with it : perfectly certain. I know him well. He was in 
his library, speaking in his usual conversational tone, 
deliberately, nor overload. He stated that it was a secret 
between us.' 

'Will it affect him?' 

'This article? Why, naturally it will. You ask 
strange questions. A Minister coming to a determination 
like that ! It affects him vitally. The members of the 
Cabinet are not so devoted. ... It affects us all — the 
whole Party ; may split it to pieces ! There 's no reckon- 
ing the upset right and left. If it were false, it could be 
refuted ; we could despise it as a trick of journalism. It 's 
true. There 's the mischief. Tonans did not happen to 
call here last night ? — absurd ! I left later than twelve.' 

' No, but let me hear,' Diana said hurriedly, for the sake 
of uttering the veracious negative and to slur it over. 
' Let me hear . . . ' She could not muster an idea. 

Her delicious thrilling voice was a comfort to him. He 
lifted his breast high and thumped it, trying to smile. 
'After all, it 's pleasant being with you, Tony. Give me 
your hand — you may : I 'm bothered — confounded by 
this morning surprise. It was like walking against the 
muzzle of a loaded cannon suddenly immasked. One 
can't fathom the mischief it will do. And I shall be sus- 
pected, and can't quite protest myself the spotless inno- 
cent. Not even to my heart's mistress ! to the wife 
of the bosom ! I suppose I 'm no Roman. You won't 
give me your hand? Tony, you might, seeing I am 
rather . . .' 

A rush of scalding tears flooded her eyes. 

'Don't touch me,' she said, and forced her sight to look 
straight at him through the fiery shower. 'I have done 
positive mischief^' 

'You, my dear Tony?' He doated on her face. 'I 



386 . DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

don't blame you, I blame myself. These things should 
never be breathed. Once in the air, the devil has hold of 
them. Don't take it so much to heart. The thing 's bad 
enough to bear as it is. Tears ! Let me have the hand. 
I came, on my honour, with the most honest intention to 
submit to your orders : but if I see you weeping in sym- 
pathy !' 

'Oh! for heaven's sake,' she caught her hands away 
from him, 'don't be generous. Whip me with scorpions. 
And don't touch me,' cried Diana. ' Do you understand ? 
You did not name it as a secret. I did not imagine it to 
be a secret of immense, immediate importance.' 

'But — what"!' shouted Dacier, stiffening. 

He wanted her positive meaning, as she perceived, 
having hoped that it was generally taken and current, and 
the shock to him over. 

'I had ... I had not a suspicion of doing harm, 
Percy.' 

'But what harm have you done? No riddles !' 

His features gave sign of the break in their common 
ground, the widening gulf. 

'I went ... it was a curious giddiness: I can't 
account for it. I thought . . . ' 

' Went ? You went where ? ' 

' Last night. I would speak intelligibly : my mind has 
gone. Ah ! you look. It is not so bad as my feeling.' 

' But where did you go last night ? What ! — ^to 
Tonans?' 

She drooped her head : she saw the track of her route 
cleaving the darkness in a demoniacal zig-zag and herself 
in demon's grip. 

'Yes,' she confronted him. 'I went to Mr. Tonans.' 

'Why?' 

'I went to him ' 

'You went alone?' 



THE CRIMINAL'S JUDGE LOVE'S CRIMINAL 387 

'I took my maid.' 

'Well?' 

'It was late when you left me . . .' 

'Speak plainly!' 

' I am trying : I will teU you aU.' 

'At once, if you please.' 

'I went to him — why? There is no accounting for it. 
He sneered constantly at my stale information.' 

'You gave him constant information?' 

' No : in our ordinary talk. He railed at me for being 
"out of it." I must be childish: I went to show him — 
oh ! my vanity ! I think I must have been possessed.' 

She watched the hardening of her lover's eyes. They 
penetrated, and through them she read herself insuffer- 
ably. 

But it was with hesitation still that he said: 'Then 
you betrayed me?' 

' Percy ! I had not a suspicion of mischief.' 

'You went straight to this man?' 

'Not thinking . . .' 

'You sold me to a journalist !' 

' I thought it was a secret of a day. I don't think you — 
no, you did not tell me to keep it secret. A word from 
you would have been enough. I was in extremity.' 

Dacier threw his hands up and broke away. He had an 
impulse to dash from the room, to get a breath of different 
air. He stood at the window, observing tradesmen's 
carts, housemaids, blank doors, dogs, a beggar fifer. Her 
last words recurred to him. He turned : ' You were in 
extremity, you said. What is the meaning of that? 
What extremity?' 

Her large dark eyes flashed powerlessly ; her shape 
appeared to have narrowed ; her tongue, too, was a feeble 
penitent. 

'You ask a creature to recall her acts of insanity.' 



388 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'There must be some signification in your words, I 
suppose.' 

' I will tell you as clearly as I can. You have the right 
to be my judge. I was in extremity — that is, I saw no 
means ... I could not write : it was ruin coming.' 

'Ah? — you took payment for playing spy?' 

'I fancied I could retrieve . . . Now I see the folly, 
the baseness. I was blind.' 

'Then you sold me to a journalist for money?' 

The intolerable scourge fetched a stifled scream from 
her and drove her pacing, but there was no escape ; she 
returned to meet it. 

The room was a cage to both of them, and every word 
of either was a sting. 

' Percy, I did not imagine he would use it — make use of 
it as he has done.' 

' Not ? And when he paid for it ? ' 

'I fancied it would be merely of general service — ^if 
any.' 

' Distributed ; I see : not leading to the exposure of the 
communicant!' 

' You are harsh ; but I would not have you milder.' 

The meekness of such a mischief-doer was revolting and 
called for the lash. 

'Do me the favour to name the sum. I am curious to 
learn what my imbecility was counted worth.' 

' No sum was named.' 

' Have I been bought for a song ? ' 

'It was a suggestion — ^no definite . . . nothing stipu- 
lated.' 

'You were to receive money !' 

' Leave me a bit of veiling ! No, you shall behold me 
the thing I am. Listen ... I was poor . . .' 

' You might have applied to me.' 

'For money ! That I could not do.' 



THE CRIMINAL'S JUDGE LOVE'S CRIMINAL 389 

' Better than betraying me, believe me.' 

'I had no thought of betraying. I hope I could have 
died rather than consciously betray.' 

' Money ! My whole fortune was at your disposal.' 

'I was beset with debts, imable to write, and, last night 
when you left me, abject. It seemed to me that you dis- 
respected me . . .' 

'Last night !' Dacier cried with lashing emphasis. 

' It is evident to me that I have the reptile in me, Percy. 
Or else I am subject to lose my reason. I went ... I 
went Uke a bullet : I cannot describe it ; I was mad. I 
need a strong arm, I want help. I am given to think that 
I do my best and can be independent ; I break down. I 
went blindly — ^now I see it — ^for the chance of recovering 
my position, as the gambler casts ; and he wins or loses. 
With me it is the soul that is lost. No exact sum was 
named ; thousands were hinted.' 

' You are hardly practical on points of business.' 

'I was insane.' 

'I think you said you slept well after it,' Dacier re- 
marked. 

'I had so little the idea of having done evilly, that I 
slept without a dream.' 

He shrugged: — ^the consciences of women are such 
smooth deeps, or running shallows. 

'I have often wondered how your newspaper men got 
their information,' he said, and muttered: 'Money — 
women!' adding: 'Idiots to prime them! And I one 
of the leaky vessels ! Well, we learn. I have been rather 
astonished at times of late at the scraps of secret knowl- 
edge displayed by Tonans. If he flourishes his thou- 
sands ! The wonder is, he doesn't corrupt the Ministers' 
wives. Perhaps he does. Marriage will become a danger- 
sign to Parliamentary members. Foreign women do these 
tricks . . . women of a well-known stamp. It is now 



390 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

a full year, I think, since I began to speak to you of secret 
matters — and congratulated myself, I recollect, on your 
thirst for them.' 

'Percy, if you suspect that I have uttered one word 
before last night, you are wrong. I cannot paint my 
temptation or my loss of sense last night. Previously I 
was blameless. I thirsted, yes ; but in the hope of help- 
ing you.' 

IJe looked at her. She perceived how glitteringly love- 
less his eyes had grown. It was her punishment; and 
though the enamoured woman's heart protested it exces- 
sive, she accepted it. 

'I can never trust you again,' he said. 

'I fear you wUl not,' she replied. 

His coming back to her after the departure of the guests 
last night shone on him in splendid colours of single- 
minded loverlike devotion. ' I came to speak to my own 
heart. I thought it would give you pleasure ; thought I 
could trust you utterly. I had not the slightest concep- 
tion I waa imperilling my honour . . . !' 

He stopped. Her bloodless fixed features revealed an 
intensity of anguish that checked him. Only her mouth, 
a little open for the sharp breath, appeared dumbly be- 
seeching. Her large eyes met his like steel to steel, as of 
one who would die fronting the weapon. 

He strangled a loathsome inclination to admire. 

'So good bye,' he said. 

She moved her lips. 

He said no more. In half a minute he was gone. 

To her it was the plucking of life out of her breast. 

She pressed her hands where heart had been. The 
pallor and cold of death took her body. 



THE TRUE HEROINE'S TIME OF TRIUMPH 391 



CHAPTER XXXV 

REVEALS HOW THE TRUE HEROINE OF ROMANCE COMES 
FINALLY TO HER TIME OF TRIUMPH 

The shutting of her house-door closed for Dacier that 
woman's history in connection with himself. He set his 
mind on the consequences of the act of folly — ^the trusting 
a secret to a woman. All were possibly not so bad : none 
should be trusted. 

The air of the street fanned him agreeably as he re- 
volved the horrible project of confession to the man who 
had put faith in him. Particulars might be asked. She 
would be unnamed, but an imagination of the effect of 
naming her placarded a notorious woman in fresh paint : 
two members of the same family her victims ! 

And last night, no later than last night, he had swung 
round at this very comer of the street to give her the full- 
est proof of his affection. He beheld a dupe trotting into 
a carefully-laid pitfall. She had him by the generosity of 
his confidence in her. Moreover, the recollection of her 
recent feeble phrasing, when she stood convicted of the 
treachery, when a really clever woman would have de- 
veloped her resources, led him to doubt her being so finely 
gifted. She was just clever enough to hoodwink. He 
attributed the dupery to a trick of imposing the idea of 
her virtue upon men. Attracted by her good looks and 
sparkle, they entered the circle of her charm, became de- 
lightfully intimate, suffered a rebuff, and were from that 
time prepared to serve her purpose. How many other 
wretched dupes had she dangling ? He spied at Westlake, 
spied at Redworth, at old Lord Larrian, at Lord Dannis- 
burgh, at Arthur Rhodes, dozens. Old and young were 



392 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

alike to her if she saw an end to be gained by keeping 
them hooked. Tonans too, and Whitmonby. Newspaper 
editors were especially serviceable. Perhaps 'a young 
Minister of State' held the foremost rank in that respect ; 
if completely duped and squeezeable, he produced more 
substantial stuff. 

The background of ice in Dacier's composition was 
brought to the front by his righteous contempt of her 
treachery. No explanation of it would have appeased 
him. She was guilty, and he condemned her. She stood 
condemned by all the evU likely to ensue from her mis- 
deed. Scarcely had he left her house last night when she 
was away to betray him ! — He shook her from him with- 
out a pang. Crediting her with the one merit she had — 
that of not imploring for mercy — he the more easily 
shook her off. Treacherous, she had not proved theatri- 
cal. So there was no fuss in putting out her light, and it 
was done. He was justified by the brute facts. Honour- 
able, courteous, kindly gentleman, highly civilized, an 
excellent citizen and a patriot, he was icy at an outrage 
to his principles, and in the dominion of Love a sultan 
of the bow-string and chopper period, sovereignly endowed 
to stretch a finger for the scimitared Mesrour to make the 
erring woman head and trunk with one blow : and away 
with those remnants ! This internally he did. Enough 
that the brute facts justified him. 

St. James's park was crossed, and the grass of the Green 
park, to avoid inquisitive friends. He was obliged to 
walk; exercise, action of any sort, was imperative, and 
but for some engagement he would have gone to his 
fencing-rooms for a bout with the master. He remem- 
bered his engagement and grew doubly embittered. He 
had absurdly pledged himself to lunch with Quintin 
Manx; that was, to pretend to eat while submitting to 
be questioned by a political dullard strong on his present 



THE TRUE HEROINE'S TIME OF TRIUMPH 393 

right to overhaiil and rail at his superiors. The house 
was one of a block along the North-Western line of Hyde 
park. He kicked at the subjection to go there, but a 
promise was binding, though he gave it when stunned. 
He could have silenced Mr. Manx with the posing interro- 
gation : Why have I so long consented to put myself at 
the mercy of a bore? For him, he could not answer it, 
though Manx, as leader of the Shipping interest, was 
influential. The man had to be endured, like other doses 
in politics. 

Dacier did not once think of the great ship-owner's 
niece till Miss Constance Asper stepped into her drawing- 
room to welcome him. She was an image of repose to his 
mind. The calm pure outline of her white features re- 
freshed him as the Alps the Londoner newly alighted at 
Berne; smoke, wrangle, the wrestling city's wickedness, 
behind him. 

'My uncle is very disturbed,' she said. 'Is the news — 
if I am not very indiscreet in inquiring?' 

'I have a practice of never pajong attention to news- 
paper articles,' Dacier replied. 

'I am only affected by living with one who does,' Miss 
Asper observed, and the lofty isolation of her head above 
politics gave her a moral attractiveness in addition to 
physical beauty. Her water-colour sketches were on 
her uncle's walls : the beautiful in nature claimed and ab- 
sorbed her. She dressed with a pretty rigour, a lovely 
simplicity, picturesque of the nunnery. She looked 
indeed a high-bom young lady-abbess. 

' It 's a dusty game for ladies,' Dacier said, abhorring 
the women defiled by it. 

And when one thinks of the desire of men to worship 
women, there is a pathos in a man's discovery of the fair 
young creature undefiled by any interest in public affairs, 
virginal amid her bower's environments. 



394 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

The angelical beauty of a virgin mind and person capti- 
vated him, by contrast. His natural taste was to admire 
it, shunning the lures and tangles of the women on high 
seas, notably the married : who, by the way, contrive to 
ensnare us through wonderment at a cleverness caught 
from their traffic with the masculine world : often — if we 
did but know ! — a parrot-repetition of the last male 
visitor's remarks. But that which the fair maiden speaks, 
though it may be simple, is her own. 

She too is her own : or vowed but to one. She is on all 
sides impressive in purity. The world worships her as its 
perfect pearl : and we are brought refreshfuUy to acknowl- 
edge that the world is right. 

By contrast, the white radiation of Innocence distin- 
guished Constance Asper celestially. As he was well 
aware, she had long preferred him — the reserved among 
many pleading pressing suitors. Her steady faithfulness 
had fed on the poorest crumbs. 

He ventured to express the hope that she was well. 

'Yes,' she answered, with eyelids lifted softly to thank 
him for his concern in so humble a person. 

'You look a little pale,' he said. 

She coloured like a sea- water shell. 'I am inclined to 
paleness by nature.' 

Her uncle disturbed them. Lunch was ready. He 
apologized for the absence of Mrs. Markland, a maternal 
aunt of Constance, who kept house for them. Quintin 
Manx fell upon the meats, and then upon the Minister. 
Dacier found himself happily surprised by the accession 
of an appetite. He mentioned it, to escape from the 
worrying of his host, as unusual with him at midday: 
and Miss Asper, supporting him in that eflfort, said benev- 
olently: 'Gentlemen should eat; they have so many 
fatigues and troubles.' She herself did not like to be seen 
eating in public. Her lips opened to the morsels, as with 



THE TRUE HEROINE'S TIME OF TRIUMPH 395 

a bird's bill, though with none of the pecking eagerness 
"we complacently observe in poultry. 

'But now, I say, positively, how about that article?' 
said Quintin. 

Dacier visibly winced, and Constance immediately said : 
^ Oh ! spare us politics, dear uncle.' 

Her intercession was without avail, but by contrast with 
the woman implicated in the horrible article, it was a carol 
of the seraphs. 

'Come, you can say whether there's anything in it,' 
Dacier's host pushed him. 

'I should not say it if I could,' he replied. 

The mild sweetness of Miss Asper's look encouraged 
him. 

He was touched to the quick by hearing her say : 'You 
ask for Cabinet secrets, uncle. All secrets are holy, but 
secrets of State are under a seal next to divine.' 

Next to divine ! She was the mouthpiece of his ruling 
principle. 

'I'm not prying into secrets,' Quintin persisted; 'all 
I want to know is, whether there 's any f oimdation for that 
article — all London 's boiling about it, I can tell you — or 
it 's only newspaper's humbug.' 

'Clearly the oracle for you is the Editor's office,' 
rejoined Dacier. 

'A pretty sort of answer I should get.' 

'It would at least be complimentary.' 

'How do you mean?' 

'The net was cast for you — and the sight of a fish in it !' 

Miss Asper almost laughed. 'Have you heard the 
choir at St. Catherine's ? ' she aaked. 

Dacier had not. He repented of his worldliness, and 
drinking persuasive claret, said he would go to hear it next 
Sunday. 

'Do,' she murmured. 



396 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Well, you seem to be a pair against me,' her uncle 
grumbled. 'Anyhow I think it 's important. People 
have been talking for some time, and I don't want to be 
taken unawares ; I won't be a yoked ox, mind you.' 

'Have you been sketching lately?' Dacier asked Miss 
Asper. 

She generally filled a book in the autumn, she said. 

'May I see it?' 

'If you wish.' 

They had a short tussle with her uncle and escaped. He 
was conducted to a room midway upstairs : an heiress's 
conception of a saintly little room ; and more impresive 
in purity, indeed it was, than a saint's, with the many 
crucifixes, gold and silver emblems, velvet prie-Dieu 
chairs, jewel-clasped sacred volumes : every invitation to 
meditate in luxury on an ascetic religiousness. 

She depreciated her sketching powers. 'I am im- 
patient with my imperfections. I am therefore doomed 
not to advance.' 

'On the contrary, that is the state guaranteeing ulti- 
mate excellence,' he said, much disposed to drone about it. 

She sighed : ' I fear not.' 

He turned the leaves, comparing her modesty with the 
performance. The third of the leaves was a subject in- 
stantly recognized by him. It represented the place he 
had inherited from Lord Dannisburgh. 

He named it. 

She smiled: 'You are good enough to see a likeness? 
My aunt and I were passing it last October, and I waited 
for a day, to sketch.' 

'You have taken it from my favourite point of view.' 

'I am glad.' 

'How much I should like a copy!' 

'If you will accept that?' 

'I could not rob you.' 



THE TRUE HEROINE'S TIME OF TRIUMPH 397 

'I can make a duplicate.' 

'The look of the place pleases you?' 

'Oh ! yes ; the pines behind it ; the sweet little village 
church; even the appearance of the rustics; — it is all 
impressively old English. I suppose you are very seldom 
there?' 

'Does it look like a home to you?' 

'No place more!' 

'I feel the loneliness.' 

' Where I Uve I feel no loneliness ! ' 

'You have heavenly messengers near you.' 

'They do not always come.' 

'Would you consent to make the place less lonely to 
me?' 

Her bosom rose. In deference to her maidenly under- 
standing, she gazed inquiringly. 

' If you love it ! ' said he. 

'The place?' she said, looking soft at the possessor. 

'Constance!' 

'Is it true?' 

'As you yourself. Could it be other than true? This 
hand is mine?' 

'Oh! Percy.' 

Borrowing the world's poetry to describe them, the 
long prayed-for Summer enveloped the melting snows. 

So the recollection of Diana's watch beside his uncle's 
death-bed was wiped out. Ay, and the hissing of her 
treachery silenced. This maidenly hand put him at peace 
with the world, instead of his defying it for a worthless 
woman — who could not do better than accept the shelter 
of her husband's house, as she ought to be told, if her 
friends wished her to save her reputation. 

Dacier made his way downstairs to Quintin Manx, by 
whom he was hotly congratulated and informed of the 
extent of the young lady's fortune : on the strength of 



398 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

which it was expected that he would certainly speak a. 
private word in elucidation of that newspaper article. 

'I know nothing of it,' said Dacier, but promised to 
come and dine. 

Alone in her happiness Constance Asper despatched 
various brief notes under her gold-symboUed crest to 
sisterly friends; one to Lady Wathin, containing the 
single line : 

'Your prophesy is confirmed.' 

Dacier was comfortably able to face his Club after the- 
excitement of a proposal, with a bride on his hands. He 
was assaulted concerning the article, and he parried 
capitally. Say that her lips were rather cold : at any 
rate, they invigorated him. Her character was guaran- 
teed — not the hazy idea of a dupe. And her fortune 
would be enormous : a speculation merely due to worldly 
prudence and prospective ambition. 

At the dinner-table of four, in the evening, conversation 
would have seemed dull to him, by contrast, had it not 
been for the presiding grace of his bride, whose habitually 
eminent feminine air of superiority to the repast was 
throned by her appreciative receptiveness of his looks, 
and utterances. Before leaving her, he won her consent 
to a very early marriage; on the plea of a possibly ap- 
proaching Session, and also that they had waited long. 
The consent, notwithstanding the hurry of preparations 
it involved, besides the annihilation of her desire to medi- 
tate on so solemn a change in her life and savour the con- 
gratulations of her friends and have the choir of St. 
Catherine's rigorously drilled in her favourite anthems,, 
was beautifully yielded to the pressure of circumstances.- 

There lay on his table at night a letter ; a bulky letter. 
No need to tear it open for sight of the signature : the 
superscription was redolent of that betraying woman. He 
tossed it unopened into the fire. 



THE TRUE HEROINE'S TIME OF TRIUMPH 399 

As it was thick, it burned sullenly, discolouring his name 
on the address, as she had done, and still offering him a 
last chance of viewing the contents. She fought on the 
consuming fire to have her exculpation heard. 

But was she not a shameless traitor? She had caught 
him by his love of his country and hope to serve it. She 
had wound into his heart to bleed him of aU he knew and 
sell the secrets for money. A wonderful sort of eloquence 
lay there, on those coals, no doubt. He felt a slight 
movement of curiosity to glance at two or three random 
sentences: very slight. And why read them now? 
They were valueless to him, mere outcries. He judged 
her by the brute facts. She and her slowly-consuming 
letter were of a common blackness. Moreover, to read 
them when he was plighted to another woman would be 
senseless. In the discovery of her baseness, she had made 
a poor figure. Doubtless diudng the afternoon she had 
trimmed her intuitive Belial art of making 'the worse 
appear the better cause ' : queer to peruse, and instructive 
in an unprofitable department of knowledge — the tricks 
of the sex. 

He said to himself, with little intuition of the popular 
taste : She wouldn't be a bad heroine of Romance ! He 
said it derisively of the Romantic. But the right worship- 
ful heroine of Romance was the front-face female picture 
he had won for his walls. Poor Diana was the flecked 
heroine of Reality : not always the same ; not impeccable ; "| 
not an ignorant-innocent, nor a guileless : good under i 
good leading ; devoted to the death in a grave crisis ; r 
often wrestling with her terrestrial nature nobly ; and a 
growing soul; but not one whose purity was carved in) 
marble for the assurance to an Englishman that his'pos-i 
session of the changeless thing defies time and his fellows, 
is the pillar of his home and universally enviable. Your 
fair one of Romance cannot suffer a mishap without a 



400 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

plotting villain, perchance many of them, to wreak the 
dread iniquity: she cannot move without him; she is 
the marble block, and if she is to have a feature, he is 
the sculptor ; she depends on him for life, and her human 
history at least is married to him far more than to the 
rescuing lover. No wonder, then, that men should find 
her thrice cherishable featureless, or with the most 
moderate possible indication of a countenance. Thou- 
sands of the excellent simple creatures do; and every 
reader of her tale. On the contrary, the heroine of 
Reality is that woman whom you have met or heard of 
once in your course of years, and very probably despised 
for bearing in her composition the motive principle; at 
best, you say, a singular mixtm-e of good and bad ; any- 
thing but the feminine ideal of man. Feature to some 
excess, you think, distinguishes her. Yet she furnishes 
not any of the sweet sensual excitement pertaining to her 
spotless rival pursued by vUlany. She knocks at the 
doors of the mind, and the mind must open to be interested 
in her. Mind and heart must be wide open to excuse her 
sheer descent from the pure ideal of man. 

Dacier's wandering reflections all came back in crowds 
to the judicial Bench of the Black Cap. He felt finely, 
apart from the treason, that her want of money degraded 
her : him too, by contact. Money she might have had to 
any extent : upon application for it, of course. How was 
he to imagine that she wanted money ! Smilingly as 
she welcomed him and his friends, entertaining them 
royally, he was bound to think she had means. A decent 
propriety bound him not to think of the matter at all. 
He naturally supposed she was capable of conducting her 
affairs. And — ^money! It soiled his memory: though 
the hour at Rovio was rather pretty, and the scene at 
Copsley touching : other times also, short glimpses of the 
woman, were taking. The flood of her treachery effaced 



HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS 401 

them. And why reflect? Constance called to him to 
look her way. 

Diana's letter died hard. The corners were bm-nt to 
black tissue, with an edge or two of discoloured paper. A 
small frayed central heap still resisted, and in kindness to 
the necessity for privacy, he impressed the fire-tongs to 
complete the execution. After which he went to his desk 
and worked, under the presidency of Constance. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

IS CONCLUSIVE AS TO THE HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN 
WITH BRAINS 

Hymeneal rumours are those which might be backed 
to run a victorious race with the tale of evil fortune ; and 
clearly for the reason that man's hvelier half is ever alert 
to speed them. They travel with an astonishing celerity 
over the land, like flames of the dry beacon-faggots of old 
time in announcement of the invader or a conquest, 
gathering as they go : wherein, to say nothing of their 
vastly wider range, they surpass the electric wires. Man's 
nuptial half is kindlingly concerned in the launch of a new 
couple ; it is the business of the fair sex : and man himself 
(very strangely, but nature quickens him still) lends a not 
unfavouring eye to the preparations of the matrimonial 
vessel for its oily descent into the tides, where billows 
will soon be rising, captain and mate soon discussing the 
fateful question of who is commander. We consent, it 
appears, to hope again for mankind; here is another chance ! 
Or else, assuming the happiness of the pair, that pomp of 
ceremonial, contrasted with the little wind-blown candle 
they carry between them, catches at our weaker fibres. 



402 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

After so many ships have foundered, some keel up, like 
poisoned fish, at the first drink of water, it is a gallant 
spectacle, let us avow; and either the world perpetuating it 
is heroical or nature incorrigible in the species. Marriages 
are unceasing. Friends do it, and enemies; the un- 
known contractors of this engagement, or armistice, in- 
spire an interest. It certainly is both exciting and com- 
forting to hear that man and woman are ready to join in 
a mutual affirmative, say Yes together again. It sounds 
like the end of the war. 

The proclamation of the proximate marriage of a young 
Minister of State and .the greatest heiress of her day ; — 
notoriously 'The young Minister of State' of a famous 
book written by the beautiful, now writhing, woman 
madly enamoured of him — and the heiress whose dowry 
could purchase a Duchy; this was a note to make the 
gossips of England leap from their beds at the midnight 
hour and wag tongues in the market-place. It did away 
with the political hubbub over the Tonans article, and 
let it noise abroad like nonsense. The Hon. Percy Dacier 
espouses Miss Asper ; and she rescues him from the snares 
of a siren, he her from the toils of the Papists. She would 
have gone over to them, she was going when, luckily for 
the Protestant Faith, Percy Dacier intervened with his 
proposal. Town and country buzzed the news ; and while 
that dreary League trumpeted about the business of the 
nation, a people suddenly become Oriental chattered of 
nothing but the blissful union to be celebrated in princely 
state, with every musical accessory, short of Operatic. 

Lady Wathin was an active agent in this excitement. 
The excellent woman enjoyed marriages of High Life: 
which, as there is presumably wealth to support them, are 
manifestly under sanction : and a marriage that she could 
consider one of her own contrivance, had a delicate 
flavour of a marriage in the family; not quite equal to 



HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS 403 

the seeing a dear daughter of her numerous progeny con- 
ducted to the altar, but excelling it in the pomp that bids 
the heavens open. She and no other spread the tidings 
of Miss Asper's debating upon the step to Rome at the 
very instant of Percy Dacier's declaration of his love;— 
and it was a beautiful struggle, that of the half-dedicated 
nun and her deep-rooted earthly passion, love prevailing ! 
She sent word to Lady Dunstane: 'You know the 
interest I have always taken in dear Constance Asper,' 
etc. ; inviting her to come on a visit a week before the 
end of the month, that she might join in the ceremony of 
a wedding 'likely to be the grandest of our time.' Pitiful 
though it was, to think of the bridal pair having but eight 
or ten days at^the outside, for a honeymoon, the beauty 
of their 'mutual devotion to duty' was urged by Lady 
Wathin upon all hearers. 

Lady Dunstane declined the invitation. She waited to 
hear from her friend, and the days went by; she could 
only sorrow for her poor Tony, divining her state. How- 
ever little of wrong in the circiunstances, they imposed a 
silence on her decent mind, and no conceivable shape of 
writing would transmit condolences. She waited, with 
a dull heartache : by no means grieving at Dacier's en- 
gagement to the heiress; \mtil Redworth animated her, 
as the bearer of rather startling intelligence, indirectly 
relating to the soul she loved. An accident in the street 
had befallen Mr. Warwick. Redworth wanted to know 
whether Diana should be told of it, though he had no 
particulars to give ; and somewhat to his disappointment, 
Lady Dunstane said she would write. She delayed, 
thinking the accident might not be serious; and the 
information of it to Diana surely would be so. Next day 
at noon her visitor was Lady Wathin, evidently perturbed 
and anxious to say more than she dared : but she received 
po assistance. After beating the air in every direction. 



404 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

especially dwelling on the fond reciprocal affection of the 
two devoted lovers, to be united within three days' time, 
Lady Wathin said at last: 'And is it not shocking! I 
talk of a marriage and am appalled by a death. That 
poor man died last night in the hospital. I mean poor 
Mr. Warwick. He was recovering, getting strong and 
well, and he was knocked down at a street-crossing and 
died last night. It is a warning to us !' 

' Mr. Redworth happened to hear of it at his Club, near 
which the accident occurred, and he called at the hospital. 
Mr. Warwick was then alive,' said Lady Dunstane ; add- 
ing : ' Well, if prevention is better than cure, as we hear ! 
Accidents are the specific for averting the maladies of age, 
which are a certain crop !' 

Lady Wathin's eyelids worked and her lips shut fast at 
the coldhearted remark void of meaning. 

She sighed. 'So ends a life of misery, my dear !' 

'You are compassionate.' 

'I hope so. But . . . Indeed I must speak, if you will 
let me. I think of the living.' 

Lady Dunstane widened her eyes. * Of Mrs. Warwick ? ' 

'She has now the freedom she desired. I think of 
others. Forgive me, but Constance Asper is to me as a 
daughter. I have perhaps no grounds for any apprehen- 
sion. Love so ardent, so sincere, was never shown by 
bridegroom elect: and it is not extraordinary to those 
acquainted with dear Constance. But one may be a 
worshipped saint and experience defection. The terrible 
stories one hears of a power of fascination almost . . . ! ' 
Lady Wathin hung for the word. 

'Infernal,' said Lady Dunstane, whose brows had been 
bent inquiringly. 'Have no fear. The freedom you 
allude to will not be used to interfere with any entertain- 
ment in prospect. It was freedom my friend desired. 
Now that her jewel is restored to her, she is not the 



HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS 405 

person to throw it away, be sure. And pray, drop the 
subject.' 

'One may rely . . . you think?' 

'Oh! Oh!' 

'This release coming just before the wedding . . . !' 

'I should hardly suppose the man to be the puppet you 
depict, or indicate.' 

'It is because men — so many — ^are not puppets that 
one is conscious of alarm.' 

'Your previous remark,' said Lady Dunstane, 'sounded 
superstitious. Your present one has an antipodal basis. 
But, as for your alarm, check it : and spare me further. 
My friend has acknowledged powers. Considering that 
she does not use them, you should learn to respect her.' 

Lady Wathin bowed stiflBy. She refused to partake of 
lunch, having, she said, satisfied her conscience by the per- 
formance of a duty and arranged with her fljnman to catch 
a train. Her cousin Lady Dunstane smiled loftily at 
everything she uttered, and she felt that if a woman like 
this Mrs. Warwick could put division between blood- 
relatives, she could do worse, and was to be dreaded up 
to the hour of the nuptials. 

'I meant no harm in coming,' she said, at the shaking 
of hands. 

'No, no; I understand,' said her hostess: 'you are 
hen-hearted over your adopted brood. The situation is 
perceptible and your intention creditable.' 

As one of the good women of the world, Lady Wathin in 
departing was indignant at the tone and dialect of a 
younger woman not modestly concealing her possession 
of the larger brain. Brains in women she both dreaded 
and detested; she believed them to be devilish. Here 
were instances : — they had driven poor Sir Lukin to evil 
courses, and that poor Mr. Warwick straight imder the 
wheels of a cab. Sir Lukin's name was trotting in public 



406 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

with a naughty Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett's : Mrs. Warwick 
might still trim her arts to baffle the marriage. Women 
with brains, moreover, are all heartless : they have no pity 
for distress, no horror of catastrophes, no joy in the happi- 
ness of the deserving. Brains in men advance a household 
to station; but brains in women divide it and are the 
wrecking of society. Fortunately Lady Wathin knew 
she could rally a powerful moral contingent, the aptitude 
of which for a one-minded cohesion enabled it to crush 
those fractional daughters of mischief. She was a really 
good woman of the world, heading a multitude ; the same 
whom you are accustomed to hear exalted; lucky in 
having had a guided girlhood, a thick-curtained prudence ; 
and in having stock in the moral funds, shares in the 
sentimental tramways. Wherever the world laid its 
hoards or ran its lines, she was found, and forcible enough 
to be eminent ; though at fixed hours of the day, even as 
she washed her hands, she abjured worldliness : a per- 
formance that cleansed her. If she did not make morality 
appear loveable to the objects of her dislike, it was owing 
to her want of brains to see the origin, nature and right 
ends of morality. But a world yet more deficient than 
she, esteemed her cordially for being a bulwark of the 
present edifice; which looks a solid structure when the 
microscope is not applied to its components. 

Supposing Percy Dacier a dishonourable tattler as well 
as an icy lover, and that Lady Wathin, through his bride, 
had become privy to the secret between him and Diana? 
There is reason to think that she would have held it in 
terror over the baneful woman, but not have persecuted 
her : for she was by no means the active malignant of 
theatrical plots. No, she would have charged it upon 
the possession of brains by women, and have had a 
further motive for inciting the potent dignitary her 
husband to employ his authority to repress the sex's 



HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS 407 

exercise of those fell weapons, hurtful alike to them and 
all coming near them. 

So extreme was her dread of Mrs. Warwick, that she 
drove from the London railway station to see Constance 
and be reassured by her tranquil aspect. 

Sweet Constance and her betrothed Percy were together, 
examining a missal. 

Lady Dunstane despatched a few words of the facts to 
Diana. She hoped to hear from her; rather hoped, for 
the moment, not to see her. No answer came. The great 
day of the nuptials came and passed. She counted on her 
husband's appearance the next morning, as the good 
gentleman made a point of visiting her, to entertain the 
wife he adored, whenever he had a wallet of gossip that 
would overlay the blank of his absence. He had been to 
the church of the wedding — he did not say with whom : — 
aU the world was there ; and he rapturously described the 
ceremony, stating that it set women weeping and caused 
him to behave like a fool. 

'You are impressionable,' said his wife. 

He murmured something in praise of the institution of 
marriage — when celebrated impressively, it seemed. 

'Tony calls the social world "the theatre of appetites," 
as we have it at present,' she said; 'and the world at a 
wedding is, one may reckon, in the second act of the 
hungry tragi-comedy.' 

' Yes, there 's the breakfast,' Sir Lukin assented. Mrs. 
Fryar-Gimnett was much more intelligible to him : in 
fact, quite so, as to her speech. 

Emma's heart now yearned to her Tony. Consulting 
her strength, she thought she might journey to London, 
and on the third morning after the Dacier-Asper marriage, 
she started. 

Diana's door was open to Arthur Rhodes when Emma 
reached it. 



408 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

* Have you seen her ? ' she asked him. 

His head shook dolefully. 'Mrs. Warwick is unwell; 
she has been working too hard.' 

'You also, I 'm afraid.' 

'No.' He could deny that, whatever the look of him. 

'Come to me at Copsley soon,' said she, entering to 
Danvers in the passage. 

'My mistress is upstairs, my lady,' said Danvers. 'She 
is lying on her bed.' 

'She is ill?' 

'She has been lying on her bed ever since.' 

i Since what?' Lady Dunstane spoke sharply. 

Danvers retrieved her indiscretion. -.'Since she heard 
of the accident, my lady.' 

'Take my name to her. Or no : I can venture.' 

'I^am not allowed to go in and speak to her. You will 
find the room quite dark, my lady, and very cold; It is 
her command. My mistress will not let me light the fire ; 
and she has not eaten or drunk of anything since. . . . 
She will die, if ypu do not persuade her to take nourish- 
ment : a little, for a beginning. It wants the beginning.' 

Emma went upstairs, thinking of the enigihatical maid, 
that she must be a good soul after all. Diana's bedroom 
door was opened slowly. 

'You will not be able to see at first, my lady,' 
Danvers whispered. 'The bed is to the left,, and a 
chair. I would bring in a candle, but it hurts her 
eyes. She forbids it,' 

Emma stepped in. The chill thick air of the unlighted 
London room was cavernous. She almost forgot the 
beloved of her heart in the thought that a living woman 
had been lying here more than two days and nights, fast- 
ing. The proof of an uttermost misery revived the 
circumstances within her to render her friend's presence in 
this desert of darkness credible. She found the bed by 



HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS 409 

touch, silently, and distinguished a dark heap on the bed ; 
she heard no breathing. She sat and listened ; then she 
stretched out her hand and met her Tony's. It lay open. 
It was the hand of a drowned woman. 

Shutters and curtains and the fireless grate gave the 
room an appalling Ukeness to the vaults. 

So like to the home of death it seemed, that in a few 
minutes the watcher had lost count of time and kept but 
a wormy memory of the daylight. She dared not speak, 
for some fear of startling; for the worse fear of never 
getting answer. Tony's hand was lifeless. Her clasp of 
it struck no warmth. 

She stung herself with bitter reproaches for having let 
common mundane sentiments, worthy of a Lady Wathin, 
bar her instant offer of her bosom to the beloved who 
suffered in this depth of mortal agony. Tony's love of 
a man, as she should have known, would be wrought of 
the elements of our being: when other women named 
Happiness, she said Life ; in division, Death. Her body 
lying still Tipon the bed here was a soul borne onward by 
the river of Death. 

The darkness gave sight after a while, like a curtain 
lifting on a veil : the dead light of the underworld. Tony 
lay with her face up, her underlip dropped ; straight from 
head to feet. The outline of her face, without hue of it, 
could be seen : sign of the hapless women that have souls 
in love. Hateful love of men ! Emma thought, and was 
moved to feel at the wrist for her darling's pulse. He has 
killed her! the thought flashed, as, with pangs chilling 
her frame, the pressure at the wrist continued insensible 
of the faintest beat. She clasped it, trembling, in pain to 
stop an outcry. 

'It is Emmy,' said the voice. 

Emma's heart sprang to heaven on a rush of thanks. 

' My Tony,' she breathed softly. 



410 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

She hung for a further proof of life in the motionless 
body. 'Tony!' she said. 

The answer was at her hand, a thread-like return of her 
clasp. 

'It is Emmy come to stay with you, never to leave 
you.' 

The thin still answer was at her hand a moment ; the 
fingers fell away. A deep breath was taken twice to say : 
' Don't talk to me.' 

Emma retained the hand. She was warned not to press 
it by the deadness following its effort to reply. 

But Tony lived ; she had given proof of life. Over this 
little wavering taper in the vaults Emma cowered, 
cherishing the hand, silently hoping for the voice. 

It came : ' Winter.' 

'It is a cold winter, Tony.' 

' My dear will be cold.' 

'I will light the fire.' 

Emma lost no time in deciding to seek the match-box. 
The fixe was lit and it flamed ; it seemed a revival in the 
room. Coming back to the bedside, she discerned her 
Tony's lack-lustre large dark eyes and her hollow cheeks : 
her mouth open to air as to the dra wing-in of a sword; 
rather as to the releaser than the sustainer. Her feet 
were on the rug her maid had placed to cover them. 
Emma leaned across the bed to put them to her breast, 
beneath her fiu" mantle, and held them there despite the 
half-animate tug of the limbs and the shaft of iciness they 
sent to her very heart. When she had restored them to 
some warmth, she threw aside her bonnet and lying beside 
Tony, took her in her arms, heaving now and then a deep 
sigh. 

She kissed her cheek. 

'It is Emmy.' 

'Kiss her.' 



HEARTLESSNESS OF WOMEN WITH BRAINS 411 

'I have no strength.' 

Emma laid her face on the lips. They were cold ; even 
the breath between them cold. 

' Has Emmy been long . . . ? ' 

' Here, dear ? I think so. I am with my darling.' 

Tony moaned. The warmth and the love were bringing 
back her anguish. 

She said : ' I have been happy. It is not hard to go.' 

Emma strained to her. 'Tony will wait for her soul's 
own soul to go, the two together.' 

There was a faint convulsion in the body. 'If I cry, I 
shall go in pain.' 

'You are in Emmy's arms, my beloved.' 

Tony's eyes closed for forgetfulness under that sensa- 
tion. A tear ran down from her, but the pain was lax and 
neighboured sleep, like the pleasure. 

So passed the short winter day, little spoken. 

Then Emma bethought her of a way of leading Tony to 
take food, and she said : ' I shall stay with you ; I shall 
send for clothes ; I am rather hungry. Don't stir, dear. 
I will be mistress of the house.' 

She went below to the kitchen, where a few words 
in the ear of a Frenchwoman were sufficient to waken im- 
mediate comprehension of what was wanted, and smart 
service : within ten minutes an appetizing bomllon sent 
its odour over the bedroom. Tony, days back, had said 
her last to the act of eating ; but Emma sipping at the 
spoon and expressing satisfaction, was a pleasant picture. 
The bouillon smelt pleasantly. 

' Your servants love you,' Emma said. 

'Ah, poor good souls.' 

'They crowded up to me to hear of you. Madame of 
course at the first word was off to her pots. And we 
English have the habit of calling ourselves the practical 
people! — ^This bouillon is consummate. — However, we 



412 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

have the virtues of barbarians ; we can love and serve for 
love. I never tasted anything so good. I could become 
a glutton.' 

'Do,' said Tony. 

'I should be ashamed to "drain the bowl" all to my- 
self : a sohtary toper is a horrid creature, vmless he makes 
a song of it.' 

' Emmy makes a song of it to me.' 

' But " pledge me " is a noble saying, when you think of 
humanity's original hunger for the whole. It is there that 
our civilizing commenced, and I am particularly fond of 
hearing the call. It is grandly historic. So pledge me,. 
Tony. We two can feed from one spoon; it is a closer 
bond than the loving cup. I want you just to taste it and 
excuse my gluttony.' 

Tony murmured, 'No.' The spoon was put to her 
mouth. She sighed to resist. The stronger will com- 
pelled her to move her lips. Emma fed her as a child, and 
nature sucked for life. 

The first effect was a gush of tears. 

Emma lay with her that night, when the patient was 
the better sleeper. But during the night at intervals she 
had the happiness of feeling Tony's hand travelling to^ 
make sure of her. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

AN EXHIBITION OF SOME CHAMPIONS OF THE 
STRICKEN LADY 

Close upon the hour of ten every morning the fortuitous 
meeting of two gentlemen at Mrs. Warwick's housedoor' 
was a signal for punctiliously stately greetings, the saluta- 
tion of the raised hat and a bow of the head from a position^ 



CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY 413 

of military erectness, followed by the remark: 'I trust 
you are well, sir' : to which the reply : 'I am very well, 
sir, and trust you are the same,' was deemed a complimen- 
tary fulfilment of their mutual obligation in presence. Mr. 
Sullivan Smith's initiative imparted this exercise of formal 
manners to Mr. Arthur Rhodes, whose renewed appear- 
ance, at the minute of his own arrival, he viewed, as he did 
not conceal, with a disappointed and a reproving eye. The 
inquiry after the state of Mrs. Warwick's health having 
received its tolerably comforting answer from the footman, 
they left their cards in turn, then descended the doorsteps, 
faced for the performance of the salute, and departed their 
contrary ways. 

The pleasing intelligence refreshed them one morning, 
that they would be welcomed by Lady Dunstane. There- 
upon Mr. Sullivan Smith wheeled about to Mr. Arthur 
Rhodes and observed to him: 'Sir, I might claim, by 
right of seniority, to be the foremost of us two in offering 
my respects to the lady, but the way is open to you.' 

'Sir,' said Mr. Arthur Rhodes, 'permit me to defer to 
your many superior titles to that distinction.' 

'The honour, sir, lies rather in the bestowing than in 
the taking.' 

' I venture to think, sir, that though I cannot speak pure 
Castilian, I require no lesson from a Grandee of Spain in 
acknowledging the dues of my betters.' 

' I wiU avow myself conquered, sir, by your overpower- 
ing condescension,' said Mr. Sullivan Smith; 'and I 
entreat you to ascribe my acceptance of your brief retire- 
ment to the urgent character of the business I have at 
heart.' 

He laid his fingers on the panting spot, and bowed. 

Mr. Arthur Rhodes, likewise bowing, deferentially fell 
to rearward. 

'If I mistake not,' said the Irish gentleman, 'I am 



414 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

indebted to Mr. Rhodes; and we have been joint partici- 
pators in the hospitahty of Mrs. Warwick's table.' 

The English gentleman replied: 'It was there that I 
first had the pleasure of an acquaintance which is graven 
on my memory, as the words of the wise king on tablets of 
gold and sUver.' 

Mr. Sullivan Smith gravely smiled at the unwonted 
match he had found in ceremonious humour, in Saxonland, 
and saying: 'I shall not long detain you, Mr. Rhodes,' 
he passed through the doorway. 

Arthur waited for him, pacing up and down, for a quar- 
ter of an hour, when a totally different man reappeared in 
the same person, and was the Sullivan Smith of the rosy 
beaming features and princely heartiness. He was ac- 
costed : ' Now, my dear boy, it 's your turn to try if you 
have a chance, and good luck go with ye. I 've said what 
I could on your behalf, for you 're one of ten thousand in 
this country, you are.' 

Mr. Sullivan Smith had solemnified himself to proffer 
a sober petition within the walls of the newly widowed 
lady's house; namely, for nothing less than that sweet 
lady's now unfettered hand : and it had therefore been 
perfectly natural to him, until his performance ended with 
the destruction of his hopes, to deliver himself in the high 
Castilian manner. Quite unexpected, however, was the 
reciprocal loftiness of tone spontaneously adopted by the 
young English squire, for whom, in consequence, he con- 
ceived a cordial relish ; and as he paced in the footsteps of 
Arthur, anxious to quiet his curiosity by hearing how it 
had fared with one whom he had to suppose the second 
applicant, he kept ejaculating: 'Not a bit! The fellow 
can't be Saxon ! And she had a liking for him. She 's 
nigh coming of the age when a woman takes to the chicks. 
Better he than another, if it 's to be any one. For he 's 
got fun in him ; he carries his own condiments, instead of 



CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY 415 

borrowing from the popular castors, as is their way over 
here. But I might have known there 's always sure to 
be salt and savour in the man she covers with her wing. 
Excepting, if you please, my dear lady, a bad shot you 
made at a rascal cur, no more worthy of you than Beelze- 
bub of Paradise. No matter! The daughters of Erin 
must share the fate of their mother Isle, that their tears 
may shine in the burst of sun to follow. For personal and 
patriotic motives, I would have cheered her and been like 
a wild ass combed and groomed and tamed by the adorable 
creature. But her friend says there 's not a whisk of a 
chance for me, and I must roam the desert, kicking up, 
and worshipping the star I hail brightest. They know me 
not, who think I can't worship. Why, what were I with- 
out my star? At best a pickled porker.' 

Sullivan Smith became aware of a ravishing melodious- 
ness in the soliloquy, as well as a clean resemblance in the 
simile. He would certainly have proceeded to improvize 
impassioned verse, if he had not seen Arthur Rhodes on 
the pavement. 'So, here 's the boy. Query, the face he 
wears.' 

'How kind of you to wait,' said Arthur. 

'We'll call it sympathy, for convenience,' rejoined 
Sullivan Smith. ' Well, and what next ? ' 

'You know as much as I do. Thank heaven, she is 
recovering.' 

'Is that aU?' 

'Why, what more?' 

Arthur was jealously inspected. 

'You look open-hearted, my dear boy.' Sullivan 
Smith blew the sound of a reflected ahem. 'Excuse me 
for comemusing in your company,' he said. 'But seri- 
ously, tfiere was only one thing to pardon your hurrying 
to the lady's door at such a season, when the wind tells 
tales to the world. She 's down with a cold, you know.' 



416 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'An influenza,' said Arthur. 

The simphcity of the acquiescence was vexatious to a 
champion desirous of hostilities, to vindicate the lady, in 
addition to his anxiety to cloak her sad plight. 

'She caught it from contact with one of the inhabitants 
of this country. 'Tis the fate of us Irish, and we 're con- 
demned to it for the sin of getting tired of our own. I 
begin to sneeze when I land at Holyhead. Unbutton a 
waistcoat here, in the hope of meeting a heart, and you 're 
lucky in escaping a pulmonary attack of no common 
severity, while the dog that infected you scampers off, to 
celebrate his honeymoon mayhap. Ah, but call at her 
house ia shoals, the world '11 soon be saying it 's worse 
than a coughing cold. If you came to lead her out of it 
in triumph, the laugh 'd be with you, and the lady well 
covered. D' ye understand ? ' 

The allusion to the dog's honeymoon had put Arthur 
Rhodes on the track of the darting cracker-metaphor. 

'I think I do,' he said. 'She will soon be at Copsley 
— Lady Dunstane's house, on the hills — and there we can 
see her.' 

'And that 's next to the happiness of consoling — if only 
it had been granted ! She 's not an ordinary widow, to 
be caught when the tear of lamentation has opened a prac- 
ticable path or water-way to the poor nightcapped jewel 
within. So, and you 're a candid admirer, Mr. Rhodes ! 
Well, and I '11 be one with you ; for there 's not a star in 
the firmament more deserving of homage than that lady.' 

'Let 's walk in the park and talk of her,' said Arthur. 
'There 's no sweeter subject to me.' 

His boyish frankness rejoiced Sullivan Smith. 'As 
long as you like! — nor to me!' he exclaimed. 'And 
that ever since I first beheld her on the night of a 
Ball in Dublin : before I had listened to a word of her 
speaking: and she bore her father's Irish name: — ^none 



CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY 417 

of your Warwicks and your . . . But let the cur go bark- 
ing. He can't tell what he 's lost ; perhaps he doesn't 
care. And after inflicting his hydrophobia on her tender 
fame ! Pooh, sir ; you call it a civilized country, where 
you and I and dozens of others are ready to start up as 
brothers of the lady, to defend her, and are paralyzed by 
the Law. 'Tis a law they 've instituted for the protection 
of dirty dogs — ^their majority !' 

'I owe more to Mrs. Warwick than to any soul I know,' 
said Arthur. 

' Let 's hear,' quoth Sullivan Smith ; proceeding : 
' She 's the Arabian Nights in person, that 's sure ; and 
Shakespeare's Plays, tragic and comuc; and the Book 
of Celtic History ; and Erin incarnate — down with a cold, 
no matter where ; but we know where it was caught. So 
there 's a pretty library for who 's to own her now she 's 
enfranchized by circumstances; — and a poetical figure 
too!' 

He subsided for his companion to rhapsodize. 

Arthur was overcharged with feeling, and could say 
only : 'It would be another world to me if I lost her.' 

'True; but what of the lady?' 

'No praise of miae could do her justice.' 

'That may be, but it 's negative of yourself, and not a 
portrait of the object. Hasn't she the brain of Socrates 
^-or better, say Minerva, on the bust of Venus, and the 
remainder of her finished off to an exact resemblance of 
her patronymic Goddess of the bow and quiver?' 

'She has a wise head and is beautiful.' 

'And chaste.' 

Arthur reddened: he was prepared to maintain it, 
could not speak it. 

'She is to us in this London, what the run of water was 
to Theocritus in Sicily : the nearest to the visibly divine,' 
he said, and was applauded. 



418 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Good, and on you go. Top me a few superlatives on 
that, and I 'm your echo, my friend. Isn't the seeing and 
listening to her like sitting under the silvery canopy of a 
fountain in high Summer?' 

'All the comparisons are yours,' Arthur said enviously. 

'Mr. Rhodes, you are a poet, I believe, and all you 
require to loosen your tongue is a drop of Bacchus, so if 
you will do me the extreme honour to dine with me at my 
Club this evening, we '11 resume the toast that should 
never be uttered dry. You reprove me justly, my 
friend.' 

Arthur laughed and accepted. The Club was named,, 
and the hour, and some items of the little dinner: the 
birds and the year of the wines. 

It surprised him to meet Mr. Redworth at the table of 
his host. A greater surprise was the partial thaw ia 
Redworth's bearing toward him. But, as it was partial,, 
and he a youth and poor, not even the genial influences of 
Bacchus could lift him to loosen his tongue under the 
repressing presence of the man he knew to be his censor,, 
though Sullivan Smith encouraged him with praises and 
opportunities. He thought of the many occasions when 
Mrs. Warwick's art of management had produced a tacit 
harmony between them. She had no peer. The dinner- 
failed of the pleasure he had expected from it. Red- 
worth's bluntness killed the flying metaphors, and at the- 
end of the entertainment he and Sullivan Smith were 
drumming upon politics. 

'Fancies he has the key of the Irish difficulty!' said 
the latter, clapping hand on his shoulder, by way of bless- 
ing, as they parted at the Club-steps. 

Redworth asked Arthur Rhodes the way he was going,, 
and walked beside him. 

' I suppose you take exercise ; don't get colds and that 
kind of thing,' he remarked in the old bullying fashion; 



CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY 419 

and changed it abruptly. 'I am glad to have met you 
this evening. I hope you '11 dine with me one day next 
week. Have you seen Mrs. Warwick lately?' 

'She is unwell; she has been working too hard/ said 
Arthur. 

'Seriously unwell, do you mean?' 

'Lady Dunstane is at her house, and speaks of her 
recovering.' 

'Ah. You've not seen her?' 

'Not yet.' 

'Well, good-night.' 

Redworth left him, and only when moved by gratitude 
to the lad for his mention of Mrs. Warwick's 'working 
too hard,' as the cause of her illness, recollected the 
promised dinner and the need for having his address. 

He had met Sullivan Smith accidentally in the morning 
and accepted the invitation to meet young Rhodes, 
because these two, of all men living, were for the moment 
dearest to him, as Diana Warwick's true and simple 
champions; and he had intended a perfect cordiality 
toward them both ; the end being a semi-wrangle with the 
patriot, and a patronizing bluntness with the boy; who, 
by the way, would hardly think him sincere in the offer of 
a seat at his table. He owned himself incomplete. He 
never could do the thing he meant, in the small matters 
not leading to fortune. But they led to happiness ! 
Redworth was guilty of a sigh : for now Diana Warwick 
stood free; doubly free, he was reduced to reflect in a 
wavering dubiousness. Her more than inclination for 
Dacier, witnessed by him, and the shot of the world, 
flying randomly on the subject, had struck this cuirassier, 
making light of his armour, without causing any change 
of his habitual fresh countenance. As for the scandal, 
it had never shaken his faith in her nature. He thought 
of the passion. His heart struck at Diana's, and whatever 



420 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

might by chance be true in the scandal affected him Httle, 
if but her heart were at liberty. That was the prize 
he coveted, having long read the nature of the woman 
and wedded his spirit to it. She would complete him. 

Of course, infatuated men argue likewise, and scandal 
does not move them. At a glance, the lower instincts and 

-^ the higher spirit appear equally to have the philosophy of 
overlooking blemishes. The difference between appetite 
and love is shown when a man, after years of service, can 
iear and see, and admit the possible, and still desire in 
worship; knowing that we of earth are begrimed and 
must be cleansed for presentation daily on our passage 
through the miry ways, but that our soixls, if flame of a 
soul shall have come of the agony of flesh, are beyond the 
baser mischances: partaking of them indeed, but sub- 
limely. Now Eedworth believed in the soul of Diana. 

I For him it burned, and it was a celestial radiance about 
her, unquenched by her shifting fortunes, her wilful- 
nesses and, it might be, errors. She was a woman and 
weak ; that is, not trained for strength. She was a soul ; 
therefore perpetually pointing to growth in purification. 
He felt it, and even discerned it of her, if he could not have 
phrased it. The something sovereignly characteristic 
that aspired in Diana enchained him. With her, or rather 
with his thought of her soul, he understood the right union 
of women and men, from the roots to the flowering heights 
of that rare graft. She gave him comprehension of the 
meaning of love : a word in many mouths, not often ex- 
plained. With her, wound in his idea of her, he perceived 
it to signify a new start in our existence, a finer shoot of 
the tree stoutly planted in good gross earth; the senses 
running their live sap, and the minds companioned, and 
the spirits made one by the whole-natured conjunction. 
In sooth, a happy prospect for the sons and daughters 
of Earth, divinely indicating more than happiness : the 



CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY 421 

speeding of us, compact of what we are, between the 
ascetic rocks and the sensual whirlpools, to the creation 
of certain nobler races, now very dimly imagined. 

Singularly enough, the manjof.,±hese.ieelings. was. far 
from being a social rebel. ""His Diana conjured them forth 
in relation to her, but was not on his bosom to enlighten 
him generally. His notions of citizenship tolerated the 
female Pharisees, as ladies offering us an excellent social 
concrete where quicksands abound, and without quite 
justifying the Lady Wathins and Constance Aspers of the 
world, whose virtues he could set down to accident or to 
acid blood, he considered them supportable and estimable 
where the Mrs. Fryar-Gunnetts were innumerable, threat- 
ening to become a majority; as they will constantly do 
while the sisterhood of the chaste are wattled in formalism 
and throned in sourness. 

Thoughts of Diana made phantoms of the reputable and 
their reverse alike. He could not choose but think of her. 
She was free ; and he too ; and they were as distant as the 
horizon sail and the aft-floating castaway. Her passion 
for Dacier might have burnt out her heart. And at 
present he had no claim to visit her, dared not intrude. 
He would have nothing to say, if he went, save to answer 
questions upon points of business: as to which, Lady 
Dunstane would certainly summon him when he was 
wanted. 

Riding in the park on a frosty morning, he came upon 
Sir LuHn, who looked gloomy and inquired for news of 
Diana Warwick, sa5ang that his wife had forbidden him 
to call at her house just yet. 'She's got a cold, you 
know,' said Sir LuMn; adding, 'confoundedly hard on 
women! — eh? Obliged to keep up a show. And I'd 
swear, by aU that 's holy, Diana Warwick hasn't a spot, 
not a spot, to reproach herself with. I fancy I ought to 
know women by this time. And look here, Redworth, 



422 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

last night — that is, I mean yesterday evening, I broke 
with a woman — a lady of my acquaintance, you know, 
because she would go on scandal-mongering about Diana 
Warwick. I broke with her. I told her I 'd have out any 
man who abused Diana Warwick, and I broke with her. 
By Jove ! Redworth, those women can prove spitfires. 
They 've bags of venom under their tongues, barley-sugar 
though they look — and that 's her colour. But I broke 
with her for good. I doubt if I shall ever call on her 
again. And in point of fact, I won't.' 

Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett was described in the colouring of 
the lady. 

Sir Lukin, after some further remarks, rode on, and 
Redworth mused on a moral world that allows a woman 
of Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett's like to hang on to it, and to cast 
a stone at Diana; forgetful, in his championship, that 
Diana was not disallowed a similar licence. 

When he saw Emma Dunstane, some days later, she was 
in her carriage driving, as she said, to Lawyerland, for an 
interview with old Mr. Braddock, on her friend's affairs. 
He took a seat beside her. 'No, Tony is not well,' she 
replied to his question, under the veil of candour. 'She 
is recovering, but she — you can understand — suffered a 
shock. She is not able to attend to business, and certain 
things have to be done.' 

' I used to be her man of business,' Redworth observed. 

' She speaks of your kind services. This is mere matter 
for lawyers.' 

'She is recovering?' 

'You may see her at Copsley next week. You can 
come down on Wednesdays or Saturdays ? ' 

' Any day. Tell her I want her opinion upon the state 
of things.' 

'It will please her; but you will have to describe the 
state of things.' 



CHAMPIONS OF THE STRICKEN LADY 423 

Emma feared she had said too much. She tried can- 
dour again for concealment. 'My poor Tony has been 
struck down low. I suppose it is like losing a diseased 
limb : — she has her freedom, at the cost of a blow to the 
system.' 

'She may be trusted for having strength,' said Red- 
worth. 

'Yes.' Emma's mild monosyllable was presently 
followed by an exclamation : ' One has to experience the 
irony of Fate to comprehend how cruel it is !' Then she 
remembered that such language was peculiarly abhorrent 
to him. 

'Irony of Fate !' he echoed her. 'I thought you were 
above that literary jargon.' 

' And I thought I was : or thought it would be put in 
a dialect practically explicable,' she answered, smiling at 
the lion roused. 

'Upon my word,' he burst out, 'I should like to write 
a book of Fables, showing how donkeys get into grinding 
harness, and dogs lose their bones, and fools have their 
sconces cracked, and all run jabbering of the irony of Fate,- 
to escape the annoyance of tracing the causes. And what 
are they ? nine times out of ten, plain want of patience, or 
some debt for indulgence. There 's a subject : — ^let some 
one write, Fables in illustration of the irony of Fate : and 
I '11 undertake to tack-on my grandmother's maxims for 
a moral to teach of 'em. We prate of that irony when we 
slink away from the lesson — the rod we conjure. And 
you to talk of Fate ! It 's the seed we sow, individually 
or collectively. I 'm bound-up in the prosperity of the 
country, and if the ship is wrecked, it ruins my fortune, 
but not me, unless I 'm bound-up in myself. At least I 
hope that 's my case.' 

He apologized for intruding Mr. Thomas Redworth. 

His hearer looked at him, thinking he required a more 



424 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

finely pointed gift of speech for the ironical tongue, but 
relishing the tonic directness of his faculty of reason while 
she considered that the application of the phrase might be 
brought home to him so as to render ' my Grandmother's 
moral' a conclusion less comfortingly, if quite intelligibly, 
summary. And then she thought of Tony's piteous 
instance ; and thinking with her heart, the tears insisted 
on that bitter irony of the heavens, which bestowed the 
long-withheld and coveted boon when it was empty of 
value or was but as a handful of spices to a shroud. 

Perceiving the moisture in her look, Redworth under- 
stood that it was foolish to talk rationally. But on her 
return to her beloved, the real quality of the man had 
overcome her opposing state of sentiment, and she spoke 
of him with an iteration and throb in the voice that set a 
singular query whirring round Diana's ears. Her senses 
were too heavy for a suspicion. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

CONVALESCENCE OF A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT 

From an abandonment that had the last pleasure of life 
in a willingness to yield it up, Diana rose with her friend's 
help in some state of fortitude, resembling the effort of 
her feet to bear the weight of her body. She plucked her 
courage out of the dust to which her heart had been scat- 
tered, and tasked herself to walk as the world does. But 
she was indisposed to compassionate herself in the manner 
of the burdened world. She lashed the creature who could 
not raise a head like others, and made the endurance of 
torture a support, such as the pride of being is to men. 
She would not have seen any similarity to pride in it; 



A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT 425 

would have deemed it the reverse. It was in fact the 
painful gathering of the atoms composing pride. For she 
had not only suffered ; she had done wrongly : and when 
that was acknowledged, by the light of her sufferings the 
wrong-doing appeared gigantic, chorussing eulogies of the 
man she had thought her lover : and who was her lover 
once, before the crime against him. In the opening of 
her bosom to Emma, he was painted a noble figure ; one 
of those that Romance delights to harass for the sake of 
ultimately the more exquisitely rewarding. He hated 
treachery: she had been guilty of doing what he most 
hated. She glorified him for the incapacity to forgive ; it 
was to her mind godlike. And her excuses of herself? 

At the first confession, she said she had none, and sul- 
lenly maintained that there was none to exonerate. Little 
by little her story was related — her version of the story : 
for not even as woman to woman, friend to great-hearted 
friend, pure soul to soul, could Diana tell of the state of 
shivering abjection in which Dacier had left her on the 
fatal night; of the many causes conducing to it, and of 
the chief. That was an unutterable secret, bound by all 
the laws of feminine civilization not to be betrayed. Her 
excessive self-abasement and exaltation of him who had 
struck her down, rendered it difficult to be understood; 
and not till Emma had revolved it and let it ripen in the 
mind some days could she perceive with any clearness her 
Tony's motives, or mania. The very word Money thick- 
ened the riddle : for Tony knew that her friend's purse 
was her own to dip in at her pleasure ; yet she, to escape 
so small an obligation, had committed the enormity for 
which she held the man blameless in spurning her. 

' You see what I am, Emmy,' Diana said. 

' What I do not see, is that he had grounds for striking 
so cruelly.' 

'I proved myself unworthy of him.' 



426 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

But does a man pretending to love a woman cut at one 
blow, for such a cause, the ties uniting her to him ? Un- 
worthiness of that kind, is not commonly the capital 
offence in love. — ^Tony's deep prostration and her re- 
splendent picture of her judge and executioner, kept 
Emma questioning within herself. Gradually she became 
enlightened enough to distinguish in the man a known, 
if not common, type of the externally soft and polished, 
internally hard and relentless, who are equal to the trials 
of love only as long as favouring circumstances and 
seemings nurse the fair object of their courtship. 

Her thoughts recurred to the madness driving Tony to 
betray the secret; and the ascent unhelped to get a 
survey of it and her and the conditions, was mountainous. 
She toiled up but to enter the regions of cloud; sure 
nevertheless that the obscurity was penetrable and ex- 
cuses to be discovered somewhere. Having never wanted 
money herself, she was unable perfectly to realize the 
urgency of the need : she began however to comprehend 
that the very eminent gentleman, before whom all human 
creatures were to bow in humility, had for an extended 
term considerably added to the expenses of Tony's house- 
hold, by inciting her to give those little dinners to his 
political supporters, and bringing comrades perpetually 
to supper-parties, careless of how it might affect her 
character and her piu-se. Surely an honourable man was 
bound to her in honour? Tony's remark: 'I have the 
reptile in me, dear,' — ^her exaggeration of the act, in her 
resigned despair, — was surely no justification for his 
breaking from her, even though he had discovered a 
vestige of the common ' reptile,' to leave her with a stain 
on her name? — ^There would not have been a question 
about it if Tony had not exalted him so loftily, refusing, 
in visible pain, to hear him blamed. 

Danvers had dressed a bed for Lady Dunstane in her 



A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT 427 

mistress's chamber, where often during the night Emma 
caught a sound of stifled weeping or the long falling 
breath of wakeful grief. One night she asked whether 
Tony would like to have her by her side. 

'No, dear,' was the answer in the dark; 'but you 
know my old pensioners, the blind fifer and his wife; 
I 've been thinking of them.' 

'They were paid as they passed down the street yester- 
day, my love.' 

'Yes, dear, I hope so. But he flourishes his tune so 
absurdly. I 've been thinking, that is the part I have 
played, instead of doing the female's duty of handing 
round the tin-cup for pennies. I won't cry any more.' 

She sighed and turned to sleep, leaving Emma to dis- 
burden her heart in tears. 

For it seemed to her that Tony's intellect was weakened. 
She not merely abased herself and exalted Dacier pre- 
posterously, she had sunk her intelligence in her sen- 
sations : a state that she used to decry as the sin of 
mankind, the origin of error and blood. 

Strangely too, the proposal came from her, or the sug- 
gestion of it, notwithstanding her subjectedness to the 
nerves, that she should show her face in public. She said : 
'I shall have to run about, Emmy, when I can fancy I am 
able to rattle up to the old mark. At present, I feel like 
a wrestler who has had a fall. As soon as the stiffness is 
over, it 's best to make an appearance, for the sake of 
one's backers, though I shall never be in the wrestling 
ring again.' 

'That is a good decision — when you feel quite yourself, 
dear Tony,' Emma replied. 

'I dare say I have disgraced my sex, but not as they 
suppose. I feel my new self already, and can make the 
poor brute go through fire on behalf of the old. What is 
the task? — merely to drive a face !' 



428 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'It is not known.' 

'It will be known.' 

'But this is a sealed secret.' 

' Nothing is a secret that has been spoken. It 's in the 
air, and I have to breathe to live by it. And I would 
rather it were out. "She betrayed him." Rather that, 
than have them think — anything! They will exclaim, 
How could she! I have been unable to answer it to 
you — my own heart. How ? Oh ! our weakness is the 
swiftest dog to hunt us; we cannot escape it. But I 
have the answer for them, that I trust with my whole 
soul none of them would have done the like.' 

'None, my Tony, would have taken it to the soul as 
you do.' 

' I talk, dear. If I took it honestly, I should be dumb, 
soon dust. The moment we begin to speak, the guilty 
creature is running for cover. She could not otherwise 
exist. I am sensible of evasion when I open my lips.' 

'But Tony has told me all.' 

' I think I have. But if you excuse my conduct, I am 
certain I have not.' 

' Dear girl, accounting for it, is not the same as excusing.' 

' Who can account for it ! I was caught in a whirl — 
Oh! nothing supernatural: my weakness; which it 
pleases me to call a madness — shift the ninety-ninth ! 
When I drove down that night to Mr.,Tonans, I am certain 
I had my clear wits, but I felt like a bolt. I saw things, 
but at too swift a rate for the conscience of them. Ah ! 
let never Necessity draw the bow of our weakness : it is 
the soul that is winged to its perdition. I remember I 
was writing a story, named The Man op Two Minds. I 
shall sign it. By the Woman of Two Natures. If ever it is 
finished. Capacity for thinking should precede the act 
of writing. It should; I do not say that it does. 
Capacity for assimilating the public taste and reproducing 



A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT 429 

it, is the commonest. The stuff is perishable, but it pays 
us for our labour, and in so doing saves us from becoming 
tricksters. Now I can see that Mr. Redworth had it in 
that big head of his — the authoress outliving her income !' 

'He dared not speak.' 

'Why did he not dare?' 

'Would it have checked you?' 

'I was a shot out of a gun, and I am glad he did not 
stand in my way. What power charged the gun, is another 
question. Dada used to say, that it is the devil's master- 
stroke to get us to accuse him. "So fare ye well, old 
Nickie Ben." My dear, I am a black sheep ; a creature 
with a spotted reputation ; I must wash and wash ; and 
not with water — with sulphur-flames.' She sighed. 'I 
am down there where they bum. You should have let 
me lie and die. You were not kind. I was going 
quietly.' 

'My love!' cried Emma, overborne by a despair that 
she traced to the woman's concealment of her bleeding 
heart, — 'you live for me. Do set your mind on that. 
Think of what you are bearing, as your debt to Emma. 
Wm you?' 

Tony bowed her head mechanically. 

'But I am in love with King Death, and must confess 
it,' she said. 'That hideous eating you forced on me, 
snatched me from him. And I feel that if I had gone, I 
should have been mercifully forgiven by everybody.' 

'Except by me,' said Enmia, embracing her. 'Tony 
would have left her friend for her last voyage in mourning. 
And my dearest will live to know happiness.' 

'I have no more belief in it, Emmy.' 

'The mistake of the world is to think happiness possible 
to the senses.' 

'Yes; we distil that fine essence through the senses; 
and the act is called the pain of life. It is the death of 



430 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

them. So much I understand of what our existence must 
be. But I may grieve for having done so little.' 

'That is the sound grief, with hope at the core — not in 
love with itself and wretchedly mortal, as we find self is 
under every shape it takes ; especially the chief one.' 

'Name it.' 

'It is best named Amor.' 

There was a writhing in the frame of the hearer, for she 
did want Love to be respected ; not shadowed by her mis- 
fortune. Her still-flushed senses protested on behalf of 
the eternalness of the passion, and she was obliged to think 
Emma's cold condemnatory intellect came of the no- 
knowledge of it. 

A letter from Mr. Tonans, containing an enclosure, was a 
sharp trial of Diana's endurance of the irony of Fate. She 
had spoken of the irony in allusion to her freedom. Now 
that, according to a communication from her lawyers, she 
was independent of the task of writing, the letter which 
paid the price of her misery bruised her heavily. 

' Read it and tear it all to strips,' she said in an abhor- 
rence to Emma, who rejoined : 'Shall I go at once and see 
him?' 

' Can it serve any end ? But throw it into the fire. Oh f 
no simulation of virtue. There was not, I think, a stipu- 
lated return for what I did. But I perceive clearly — I can 
read only by events — that there was an understanding. 
You behold it. I went to him to sell it. He thanks me, 
says I served the good cause well. I have not that conso- 
lation. If I had thought of the cause — of anything high, 
it would have arrested me. On the fire with it !' 

The letter and square slip were consumed. Diana 
watched the blackening papers. 

' So they cease their sinning, Emmy ; and as long as I 
am in torment, I may hope for grace. We talked of the 
irony. It means, the pain of fire.' 



A HEALTHY MIND DISTRAUGHT 431 

'I spoke of the irony to Redworth,' said Emma; 'inci- 
dentally, of course.' 

'And he fumed?' 

' He is really not altogether the Mr. Cuthbert Dering of 
your caricature. He is never less than acceptably rational. 
I won't repeat his truisms ; but he said, or I deduced from 
what he said, that a grandmother's maxims would expound 
the enigma.' 

'Probably the simple is the deep, in relation to the 
mysteries of life,' said Diana, whose wits had been pricked 
to a momentary activity by the letter. 'He behaves 
wisely; so perhaps we are bound to take his words for 
wisdom. Much nonsense is talked and written, and he is 
one of the world's reserves, who need no more than enroll- 
ing, to make a sturdy phalanx of common sense. It 's a 
pity they are not enlisted and drilled to express them- 
selves.' She relapsed. ' But neither he nor any of them 
could imderstand my case !' 

'He puts the idea of an irony down to the guilt of 
impatience, Tony.' 

' Could there be a keener irony than that ? A friend of 
Dada's waited patiently for a small fortune, and when 
it arrived, he was a worn-out man, just assisted to go 
decently to his grave.' 

' But he may have gainedin spirit by his patient waiting.* 

' Oh ! true. We are warmer if we travel on foot sun- 
ward, but it is a discovery that we are colder if we take to 
ballooning upward. The material good reverses its bene- 
fits the more nearly we clasp it. All life is a lesson that we 
live to enjoy but in the spirit. I will brood on your 
saying.' 

'It is your own saying, sDly Tony, as the only things 
worth saying always are!' exclaimed Emma, as she 
smiled happily to see her friend's mind reviving, though it 
was faintly and in the dark. 



432 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

OP NATURE WITH ONE OP HEB CULTIVATED DAUGHTERS 
AND A SHORT EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX 

A MIND that after a long season of oblivion in pain returns 
to wakefulness without a keen edge for the world, is much 
in danger of souring permanently. Diana's love of nature 
saved her from the dire mischance during a two months' 
residence at Copsley, by stupefying her senses to a state 
like the barely conscious breathing on the verge of sleep. 
February blew South-west for the pairing of the birds. A 
broad warm wind rolled clouds of every ambiguity of form 
in magnitude over peeping azure, or skimming upon lakes 
of blue and lightest green, or piling the amphitheatre for 
majestic sunset. Or sometimes those daughters of the 
wind flew linked and low, semi-purple, threatening the 
shower they retained and teaching gloom to rouse a song- 
ful nest in the bosom of the viewer. Sometimes they were 
April, variable to soar with rain-skirts and sink with sun- 
shafts. Or they drenched wood and field for a day and 
opened on the high South-western star. Daughters of the 
wind, but shifty daughters of this wind of the dropping 
sun, they have to be watched to be loved in their trans- 
formations. 

Diana had Arthur Rhodes and her faithful Leander for 
walking companions. If Arthur said : ' Such a day would 
be considered melancholy by London people,' she thanked 
him in her heart, as a benefactor who had revealed to her 
things of the deepest. The simplest were her food. Thus 
does Nature restore us, by drugging the brain and making 
her creature confidingly animal for its new growth. She 
imagined herself to have lost the power to think ; certainly 



A SHORT EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX 433 

she had not the striving or the wish. Exercise of her 
limbs to reach a point of prospect, and of her ears and eyes 
to note what bird had piped, what flower was out on the 
banks, and the leaf of what tree it was that lay beneath the 
budding, satiated her daily desires. She gathered unknow- 
ingly a sheaf of landscapes, images, keys of dreamed 
horizons, that opened a worid to her at any chance breath 
altering shape or hue : a different world from the one of 
her old ambition. Her fall had brought her renovatingly 
to earth, and the saving naturalness of the woman re- 
created her childlike, with shrouded recollections of her 
strange taste of life behind her; with a tempered fresh 
blood to enjoy aimlessly, and what would erewhile have 
been a barrenness to her sensibilities. 

In time the craving was evolved for positive knowledge, 
and shells and stones and weeds were deposited on the 
library-table at Copsley, botanical and geological books 
comparingly examined, Emma Dunstane always eager to 
assist ; for the samples wafted her into the heart of the 
woods. Poor Sir Lukin tried three days of their society, 
and was driven away headlong to Club-life. He sent down 
Redworth, with whom the walks of the zealous inquirers 
were profitable, though Diana, in acknowledging it to her- 
self, reserved a decided preference for her foregone ethereal 
mood, larger, and untroubled by the presence of a man. 
The suspicion Emma had sown was not excited to an 
alarming activity ; but she began to question : could the 
best of men be simply a woman's friend? — ^was not long 
service rather less than a proof of friendship ? She could 
be blind when her heart was on fire for another. Her 
passion for her Hberty, however, received no ominous 
warning to look to the defences. He was the same blunt 
speaker, and knotted his brows as queerly as ever at 
Arthur, in a transparent calculation of how this fellow 
meant to gain his Uvelihood. She wilfully put it to the 



434 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

credit of Arthur's tact that his elder was amiable, without 
denying her debt to the good man for leaving her illness 
and her appearance unmentioned. He forbore even to 
scan her features. Diana's wan contemplativeness, in 
which the sparkle of meaning slowly rose to flash, as we 
see a ' bubble rising from the deeps of crystal waters, 
caught at his heart while he talked his matter-of-fact. 
But her instinct of a present safety was true. She and 
Arthur discovered — and it set her first meditating whether 
she did know the man so very accurately — ^that he had 
printed, for private circulation, when at Harrow School, a 
little book, a record of his observations in nature. Lady 
Dunstane was the casual betrayer. He shrugged at the 
nonsense of a boy's publishing ; anybody's publishing he 
held for a doubtful proof of sanity. His excuse was, that 
he had not published opinions. Let us observe, and 
assist in our small sphere; not come mouthing to the 
footlights ! 

'We retire,' Diana said, for herself and Arthiu-. 

'The wise thing, is to avoid the position that enforces 
publishing,' said he, to the discomposure of his raw junior. 

In the fields he was genially helpful ; commending them 
to the study of the South-west wind, if they wanted to 
forecast the weather and understand the climate of our 
country. ' We have no Seasons, or only a shuflle of them. 
Old calendars give seven months of the year to the South- 
west, and that 's about the average. Count on it, you 
may generally reckon what to expect. When you don't 
have the excess for a year or two, you are drenched the 
year following.' He knew every bird by its flight and its 
pipe, habits, tricks, hints of sagacity homely with the 
original human ; and his remarks on the sensitive life of 
trees and herbs were a spell to his thirsty hearers. Some- 
thing of astronomy he knew; but in relation to that 
science, he sank his voice, touchingly to Diana, who felt 



A SHORT EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX 435 

drawn to kinship with him when he had a pupil's tone. 
An allusion by Arthur to the poetical work of Aratus, led 
to a memorably pleasant evening's discourse upon the 
long reading of the stars by these our mortal eyes. Alto- 
gether the mind of the practical man became distinguish- 
able to them as that of a plain brother of the poetic. 
Diana said of him to Arthur : ' He does not supply me 
with similes; he points to the source of them.' Arthur, 
with envy of the man of positive knowledge, disguised an 
unstrung heart in agreeing. 

Redworth alluded passingly to the condition of public 
affairs. Neither of them replied. Diana was wondering 
how one who perused the eternal of nature should lend a 
thought to the dusty temporary of the world. Subse- 
quently she reflected that she was asking him to confine 
his great male appetite to the nibble of bread which, 
nourished her immediate sense of life. Her reflections 
were thin as mist, coming and going like the mist, with 
no direction upon her braia, if they sprang from it. When 
he had gone, welcome though Arthur had seen him to be, 
she rebounded to a broader and cheerfuller liveliness. 
Arthur was flattered by an idea of her casting off incubus 
— a most worthy gentleman, and a not perfectly s5Tn- 
pathetic associate. Her eyes had their lost hght in them, 
her step was brisker; she challenged him to former 
games of conversation, excursions in blank verse here and 
there, as the mood dictated. They amused themselves, 
and Emma too. She revelled in seeing Tony's younger 
face and hearing some of her natural outbursts. That 
Dacier never could have been the man for her, would 
have compressed and subjected her, and inflicted a 
further taste of bondage in marriage, she was assured. 
She hoped for the day when Tony would know it, and 
haply that another, whom she little comprehended, was 
her rightful mate. 



436 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

March continued South-westerly and grew rainier, as 
Redworth had foretold, bidding them look for gales and 
storm, and then the change of wind. It came, after wet- 
tings of a couple scorning the refuge of dainty townsfolk 
under umbrellas, and proud of their likeness to dripping 
wayside wildflowers. Arthur stayed at Copsley for a 
week of the crisp North-easter ; and what was it, when he 
had taken his leave, that brought Tony home from her 
solitary walk in dejection? It could not be her seriously 
regretting the absence of the youthful companion she had 
parted with gaily, appointing a time for another meeting 
on the heights, and recommending him to repair idle 
hours with strenuous work. The fit passed and was not 
explained. The winds are sharp with memory. The hard 
shrill wind crowed to her senses of an hour on the bleak 
sands of the French coast ; the beginning of the curtained 
misery, inscribed as her happiness. She was next day 
prepared for her term in London with Emma, who prom- 
ised her to make an expedition at the end of it by way 
of holiday, to see The Crossways, which Mr. Redworth 
said was not tenanted. 

'You won't go through it like a captive?' said 
Emma. 

'I don't like it, dear,' Diana put up a comic mouth. 
'The debts we owe ourselves are the hardest to pay. 
That is the discovery of advancing age: and I used to 
imagine it was quite the other way. But they are the 
debts of honour, imperative. I shaU go through it 
grandly, you will see. If I am stopped at my first rec- 
reancy and turned directly the contrary way, I think I 
have courage.' 

'You will not fear to meet . . . any one?' Emma 
said. 

' The world and all it contains ! I am robust, eager for 
the fray, an Amazon, a brazen-faced hussy. Fear and I 



A SHORT EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX 437 

have parted. I shall not do you discredit. Besides you 
intend to have me back here with you? And besides 
again, I burn to make a last brave appearance. I have 
not outraged the world, dear Emmy, whatever certain 
creatures in it may fancy.' 

She had come out of her dejectedness with a shrewder 
view of Dacier ; equally painful, for it killed her romance, 
and changed the garden of their companionship in 
imagination to a waste. Her clearing intellect prompted 
it, whilst her nature protested, and reviled her to uplift 
him. He had loved her. 'I shall die knowing that a 
man did love me once,' she said to her widowed heart, and 
set herself blushing and blanching. But the thought 
grew inveterate: 'He could not bear much.' And in 
her quick brain it shot up a crop of similitudes for the 
quality of that man's love. She shuddered, as at a swift 
cleaving of cold steel. He had not given her a chance; 
he had not replied to her letter written with the pen dipped 
in her heart's blood; he must have gone straight away 
to the woman he married. This after almost justifying 
the scandalous world: — after . . . She realized her sen- 
sations of that night when the house-door had closed on 
him ; her feeling of lost sovereignty, degradation, feminine 
danger, friendliness: and she was unaware, and never 
knew, nor did the world ever know, what cunning had 
inspired the frosty Cupid to return to her and be warmed 
by striking a bargain for his weighty secret. She knew 
too well that she was not of the snows which do not melt, 
however high her conceit of herself might place her. 
Happily she now stood out of the sim, in a bracing tem- 
perature. Polar; and her compassion for women was 
deeply sisterly in tenderness and imderstanding. She 
spoke of it to Emma as her gain. 

' I have not seen that you required to suffer to be con- 
siderate,' Emma said. 



438 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'It is on my conscience that I neglected Mary 
Paynham, among others — and because you did not take 
to her, Emmy.' 

' The reading of it appears to me, that she has neglected 
you.' 

' She was not in my confidence, and so I construe it as 
delicacy. One never loses by believing the best.' 

'If one is not duped.' 

'Expectations dupe us, not trust. The light of every 
soul burns upward. Of course, most of them are candles 
in the wind. Let us allow for atmospheric disturbance. 
Now I thank you, dear, for bringing me back to life. I 
see that I was really a selfish suicide, because I feel I have 
power to do some good, and belong to the army. When 
we are beginning to reflect, as I do now, on a recovered 
basis of pure health, we have the world at the dawn and 
know we are young in it, with great riches, great things 
gained and greater to achieve. Personally I behold a 
queer little wriggling worm for myself ; but as one of the 
active world I stand high and shapely; and the very 
thought of doing work, is like a draught of the desert- 
springs to me. Instead of which, I have once more to go 
about presenting my face to vindicate my character. 
Mr. Redworth would admit no irony in that ! At all 
events, it is anti-climax.' 

'I forgot to tell you, Tony, you have been proposed 
for,' said Emma ; and there was a rush of savage colour 
over Tony's cheeks. 

Her apparent apprehensions were relieved by hearing 
the name of Mr. Sullivan Smith. 

'My poor dear countryman! And he thought me 
worthy, did he? Some day, when we are past his re- 
peating it, I '11 thank him.' 

The fact of her smiling happily at the narration of 
Sullivan Smith's absurd proposal by mediatrix, proved to 



A SHORT EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX 439 

Emma how much her nature thirsted for the smallest 
support in her self-esteem. 

The second campaign of London was of bad augury at 
the commencement, owing to the ridiculous intervention 
of a street-organ, that ground its pipes in a sprawling roar 
of one of the Puritani marches, just as the carriage was 
landing them at the door of her house. The notes were 
harsh, dissonant, drunken, interlocked and horribly torn 
asunder, intolerable to ears not keen to extract the tune 
through dreadful memories. Diana sat startled and para- 
lyzed. The melody crashed a revival of her days with 
Dacier, as in gibes ; and yet it reached to her heart. She 
imagined a Providence that was trying her on the thresh- 
old, striking at her feebleness. She had to lock herself 
in her room for an hour of deadly abandonment to misery, 
resembling the run of poison through her blood, before she 
could bear to lift eyes on her friend; to whom subse- 
quently she said: 'Emmy, there are wounds that cut 
sharp as the enchanter's sword, and we don't know we are 
in halves till some rough old intimate claps us on the back, 
merely to ask us how we are ! I have to join myself to- 
gether again, as well as I can. It 's done, dear ; but don't 
notice the cement.' 

'You will be brave,' Emma petitioned. 

' I long to show you I will.' 

The meeting with those who could guess a portion of 
her story, did not disconcert her. To Lady Pennon and 
Lady Singleby, she was the brilliant Diana of her nominal 
luminary issuing from cloud. Face and tongue, she was 
the same ; and once in the stream, she soon gathered its 
current topics and scattered her arrowy phrases. Lady 
Pennon ran about with them, declaring that the beautiful 
speaker, if ever down, was up, and up to her finest mark. 
Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett had then become the blazing regnant 
antisocial star; a distresser of domesticity, the magnetic 



440 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

attraction in the spirituous flames of that wild snap- 
dragon bowl, called the Upper class ; and she was angeli- 
cally blonde, a straw-coloured Beauty. 'A lovely wheat- 
sheaf, if the head were ripe,' Diana said of her. 

'Threshed, says her fame, my dear,' Lady Pennon 
replied, otherwise allusive. 

'A wheatsheaf of contention for the bread of wind,' 
said Diana, thinking of foolish Sir Lukin ; thoughtless of 
talking to a gossip. 

She would have shot a lighter dart, had she meant it to 
fly and fix. 

Proclaim, ye classics, what minor Goddess, or primal. 
Iris or Ate, sped straight away on wing to the empty 
wheatsheaf-ears of the golden-visaged Amabel Fryar- 
Gunnett, daughter of Demeter in the field to behold, of 
Aphrodite in her rosy incendiarism for the many of men ; 
filling that pearly concave with a perversion of the uttered 
speech, such as never lady could have repeated, nor man, 
if less than a reaping harvester : which verily for women 
to hear, is to stamp a substantial damnatory verification 
upon the delivery of the saying : — 

' Mrs. Warwick says of you, that you 're a bundle of 
straws for everybody and bread for nobody.' 

Or, stranger speculation, through what, and what 
number of conduits, curious, and variously colouring, did 
it reach the fair Amabel of the infant-in-cradle smile, in 
that deformation of the original utterance! To pursue 
the thing, would be to enter the subtersensuarperfumed 
caverns of a Romance of Fashionable Life, with no hope 
of coming back to light, other than by tail of lynx, like 
the great Arabian seaman, at the last page of the final 
chapter. A prospectively popular narrative indeed! 
and coin to reward it, and applause. But I am reminded 
that a story properly closed on the marriage of the heroine 
Constance and her young Minister of State, has no time 



A SHORT EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX 441 

for conjuring chemists' bouquet of aristocracy to lure the 
native taste. When we have satisfied English sentiment, 
our task is done, in every branch of art, I hear: and it 
will account to posterity for the condition of the branches. 
Those yet wakeful eccentrics interested in such a person 
as Diana, to the extent of remaining attentive till the 
curtain falls, demand of me to gather-up the threads 
concerning her: which my gardener sweeping his pile 
of dead leaves before the storm and night, advises me to 
do speedily. But it happens that her resemblance to her 
sex and species of a civilized period plants the main 
threads in her bosom. Rogues and a policeman, or a 
hurried change of front of all the actors, are not a part of 
our slow machinery. 

Nor is she to show herself to advantage. Only those 
who read her woman's blood and character with the head, 
will care for Diana of the Crossways now that the knot of 
her history has been unravelled. Some little love they 
must have for her likewise : and how it can be quickened 
on behalf of a woman who never sentimentalizes publicly, 
and has no dolly-dolly compliance, and muses on actual 
life, and fatigues with the exercise of brains, and is in sooth 
an alien : a princess of her kind and time, but a foreign 
one, speaking a language distinct from the mercantile, 
trafficking in ideas : — this is the problem. For to be true 
to her, one cannot attempt at propitiation. She said 
worse things of the world than that which was conveyed 
to the boxed ears of Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett. Accepting the 
war declared against her a second time, she performed the 
common mental trick in adversity of setting her personally 
known innocence to lessen her generally unknown error : 
but anticipating that this might become known, and the 
other not; and feeling that the motives of the acknowl- 
edged error had served to guard her from being the cul- 
prit of the charge she writhed under, she rushed out of a 



442 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

meditation compounded of mind and nerves, with derision 
of the world's notion of innocence and estimate of error. 
It was a mood lasting through her stay in London, and 
longer, to the discomfort of one among her friends ; and 
it was worthy of The Anti-climax Expedition, as she 
called it. 

For the rest, her demeanour to the old monster world 
exacting the servility of her, in repayment for its tolerating 
countenance, was faultless. Emma beheld the intro- 
duction to Mrs. Warwick of his bride, by Mr. Percy Dacier. 
She had watched their approach up the Ball-room, think- 
ing, how differently would Redworth and Tony have 
looked. Differently, had it been Tony and Dacier : but 
Emma could not persuade herself of a possible harmony 
between them, save at the cost of Tony's expiation of the 
sin of the greater heart in a performance equivalent to 
Suttee. Perfectly an English gentleman of the higher 
order, he seemed the effigy of a tombstone one, fixed up- 
right, and civilly proud of his effigy bride. So far, Emma 
considered them fitted. She perceived his quick eye on 
her corner of the room ; necessarily, for a man of his breed- 
ing, without a change of expression. An emblem per- 
taining to her creed was on the heroine's neck; also de- 
pendant at her waist. She was white from head to foot ; 
a symbol of purity. Her frail smile appeared deeply 
studied in purity. Judging from her look and her rep- 
utation, Emma divined that the man was justly mated 
with a devious filmy sentimentalist, likely to 'fiddle har- 
monics on the sensual strings' for him at a mad rate in the 
years to come. Such fiddling is indeed the peculiar diver- 
sion of the opulent of a fatly prosperous people; who 
take it, one may concede to them, for an inspired elimina- 
tion of the higher notes of life : the very highest. That 
saying of Tony's ripened with full significance to Emma 
now. Not sensualism, but sham spiritualism, was the 



A SHORT EXCURSION IN ANTI-CLIMAX 443 

meaning ; and however fine the notes, they come skilfully 
evoked of the under-brute in us. Reasoning it so, she 
thought it a saying for the penetration of the most 
polished and deceptive of the later human masks. She 
had besides, be it owned, a triumph in conjuring a sentence 
of her friend's, like a sword's edge, to meet them ; for she 
was boiling angrily at the ironical destiny which had given 
to those Two a beclouding of her beloved, whom she 
could have rebuked in turn for her insane caprice of 
passion. 

But when her beloved stood-up to greet Mrs. Percy 
Dacier, all idea save tremulous admiration of the valiant 
woman, who had been wounded nigh to death, passed 
from Emma's mind. Diana tempered her queenliness to 
address the favoured lady with smUes and phrases of 
gentle warmth, of goodness of nature; and it became a 
halo rather than a personal eclipse that she cast. 

Emma looked at Dacier. He wore the prescribed con- 
ventional air, subject in half a minute to a rapid blinking 
of the eyelids. His wife could have been ioimically imag- 
ined fascinated and dwindling. A spot of colour came to 
her cheeks. She likewise began to blink. 

The happy couple bowed, proceeding ; and Emma had 
Dacier's back for a study. We score on that flat slate of 
man, imattractive as it is to hostile observations, and un- 
protected, the device we choose. Her harshest, was the 
positive thought that he had taken the woman best suited 
to him. Doubtless, he was a man to prize the altar-candle 
above the lamp of day. She fancied the back-view of 
him shrunken and straitened : perhaps a mere hostile 
fancy : though it was conceivable that he should desire 
as little of these meetings as possible. Eclipses are not 
courted. 

The specially womanly exultation of Emma Dunstane 
in her friend's noble attitude, seeing how their sex had 



444 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

been struck to the dust for a trifling error, easily to be over- 
looked by a manful lover, and had asserted its dignity in 
physical and moral splendour, in self-mastery and benign- 
ness, was imshared by Diana. As soon as the business of 
the expedition was over, her orders were issued for the 
sale of the lease of her house and all it contained. 'I 
would sell Danvers too,' she said, 'but the creature 
declines to be treated as merchandize. It seems I have a 
faithful servant; very much like my life, not quite to 
my taste; the one thing out of the wreck! — with my 
dog!' 

Before quitting her house for the return to Copsley, she 
had to grant Mr. Alexander Hepburn, post-haste from his 
Caledonia, a private interview. She came out of it notice- 
ably shattered. Nothing was related to Emma, beyond 
the remark: 'I never knew till this morning the force of 
No in earnest.' The weighty little word — woman's native 
watchdog and guardian, if she calls it to her aid in earnest 
— ^had encountered and withstood a fiery ancient host,, 
astonished at its novel power of resistance. 

Emma contented herself with the result. 'Were you 
much supplicated?' 

'An Operatic Fourth- Act,' said Diana, by no means 
feeling so flippantly as she spoke. 

She received, while under the impression of this man's 
honest, if primitive, ardour of courtship, or effort to cap- 
ture, a characteristic letter from Westlake, choicely 
phrased, containing presumeably an application for her 
hand, in the generous offer of his own. Her reply to a 
pursuer of that sort was easy. Comedy, after the bar- 
baric attack, refreshed her wits and reliance on her natural 
fencing weapons. To Westlake, the unwritten No was 
conveyed in a series of kindly ironic subterfuges, that, 
played it like an impish flea across the pages, just giving 
the bloom of the word ; and rich smiles come to Emma's. 



A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN 445 

life in reading the dexterous composition: which, how- 
ever, proved so thoroughly to Westlake's taste, that a 
second and a third exercise in the comedy of the negative 
iad to be despatched to him from Copsley. 



CHAPTER XL 

IN WHICH WE SEE NATURE MAKING OF A WOMAN A 
MAID AGAIN, AND A THKICE WHIMSICAL 

On their way from London, after leaving the station, the 
drive through the valley led them past a field, where 
cricketers were at work bowling and batting imder a verti- 
cal sun : not a very comprehensible sight to ladies, whose 
practical tendencies, as observers of the other sex, incline 
them to question the gain of such an expenditure of energy. 
The dispersal of the alphabet over a printed page is not less 
perplexing to the illiterate. As soon as Emma Dunstane 
discovered the Copsley head-gamekeeper at one wicket, 
and, actually, Thomas Redworth facing him, bat in hand, 
she sat up, greatly interested. Sir Lukin stopped the car- 
riage at the gate, and reminded his wife that it was the 
day of the year for the men of his estate to encounter a 
valley Eleven. Redworth, like the good fellow he was, 
had come down by appointment in the morning out of , 
London, to fill the number required, Copsley being weak 
this year. Eight of their wickets had fallen for a lament- 
able figure of twenty-nine runs ; himself clean-bowled the 
first ball. But Tom Redworth had got fast hold of his 
wicket, and already scored fifty to his bat. 'There! 
grand hit !' Sir Lukin cried, the ball flying hard at the 
rails. ' Once a cricketer, always a cricketer, if you 've 
legs to fetch the runs. And Pullen's not doing badly. 
His business is to stick. We shall mark them a hundred 



446 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

yet. I do hate a score on our side without the two OO's.' 
He accounted for Redworth's mixed colours by telhng the 
ladies he had lent him his flannel jacket; which, against 
black trousers, looked odd but not ill. 

Gradually the enthusiasm of the booth and bystanders 
converted the flying of a leather ball into a subject of 
honourable excitement. 

'And why are you doing nothing?' Sir Lukin was 
asked ; and he explained : 

'My stumps are down: I'm married.' He took his 
wife's hand prettily. 

Diana had a malicious prompting. She smothered the 
wasp, and said : ' Oh ! look at that !' 

' Grand hit again ! Oh! good! good!' cried Sir Lukin, 
clapping to it, while the long-hit-off ran spinning his legs 
into one for an impossible catch ; and the batsmen were 
running and stretching bats, and the ball fljdng away, fly- 
ing back, and others after it, and still the batsmen running, 
till it seemed that the ball had escaped control and was 
leading the fielders on a coltish innings of its own, defiant 
of bowlers. 

Diana said merrily: 'Bravo our side !' 

'Bravo, old Tom Redworth'; rejoined Sir Lukin. 
' Four, and a three ! And capital weather, haven't we I 
Hope we shall have same sort day next month — ^return 
match, my ground. I 've seen Tom Redworth score — old 
days — over two hundred t' his bat. And he used to bowl 
too. But bowling wants practice. And, Emmy, look at 
the old fellows lining the booth, pipe in mouth and cheer- 
ing. They do enjoy a day like this. We '11 have a supper 
for fifty at Copsley's : — ^it 's fun. By Jove ! we must have 
reached up to near the hundred.' 

He commissioned a neighbouring boy to hie to the booth 
for the latest figures, and his emissary taught lightning a 
lesson. 



A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN 447 

Diana praised the little fellow. 

'Yes, he 's a real Enghsh boy,' said Emma. 

'We've thousands of 'em, thousands, ready to your 
hand,' exclaimed Sir Luldn; 'and a confounded Radi- 
calized country . . .'he muttered glodmUy of 'lets us be 
kicked ! . . . any amount of insult, meek as gruel ! . . . 
making of the finest army the world has ever seen ! You 
saw the papers this morning? Good heaven! how a 
nation with an atom of self-respect can go on standing that 
sort of bullying from foreigners ! We do. We 're in- 
sulted and we 're threatened, and we call for a hymn ! — 
Now then, my man, what is it?' 

The boy had flown back. 'Ninety-two marked, sir; 
ninety-nine runs ; one more for the hundred.' 

' WeU reckoned ; and mind you 're up at Copsley for the 
return match. — ^And Tom Redworth says, they may bite 
their thumbs to the bone — they don't hurt us. I tell him, 
he has no sense of national pride. He says, we 're not 
prepared for war. We never are ! And whose the fault ? 
Says, we 're a peaceful people, but 'ware who touches us ! 
He doesn't feel a kick. — Oh ! clever snick ! Hurrah for 
the hundred ! — ^Two — three. No, don't force the running, 
you fools ! — ^though they 're wild with the baU : ha ! — ^no ! 
— all right ! ' The wicket stood. Hurrah ! 

The heat of the noonday sun compelled the ladies to 
drive on. 

' Enthusiasm has the privilege of not knowing monot- 
ony,' said Emma. ' He looks well in flannels.' 

'Yes, he does,' Diana replied, aware of the reddening 
despite her having spoken so simply. 'I think the chief 
advantage men have over us is in their amusements.' 

'Their recreations.' 

'That is the better word.' Diana fanned her cheeks 
and said she was warm. ' I mean, the permanent advan- 
tage. For you see that age does not affect them.' 



448 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Tom Redworth is not a patriarch, my dear.' 

'Well, he is what would be called mature.' 

' He can't be more than thirty-two or three ; and that, 
for a man of his constitution, means youth.' 

'Well, I can imagine him a patriarch playing cricket.' 

'I should imagine you imagine the possible chances. 
He is the father who would play with his boys.' 

'And lock up his girls in the nursery.' Diana mur- 
mured of the extraordinary heat. 

Emma begged her to remember her heterodox views of 
the education for girls. 

'He bats admirably,' said Diana. 'I wish I could bat 
half as well.' 

'Your batting is with the tongue.' 

'Not so good. And a solid bat, or bludgeon, to de- 
fend the poor stumps, is surer. But there is the difference 
of cricket : — when yoxir stumps are down, you are idle, at 
leisure ; not a miserable prisoner.' 

'Supposing all marriages miserable.' 

' To the mind of me,' said Diana, and observed Emma's 
rather saddened eyelids for a proof that schemes to rob 
her of dear liberty were certainly planned. 

They conversed of expeditions to Redworth's Berk- 
shire mansion, and to The Crossways, untenanted at 
the moment, as he had informed Emma, who fancied it 
would please Tony to pass a night in the house she 
loved; but as he was to be of the party she coldly 
acquiesced. 

The woman of flesh refuses pliancy when we want it of 
her, and will not, until it is her gobd pleasure, be bent to 
the development called a climax, as the puppet-woman, 
mother of Fiction and darling of the multitude! ever 
amiably does, at a hint of the Nuptial Chapter. Diana in 
addition sustained the weight of brains. Neither with 
waxen optics nor with subservient jointings did she go 



A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN 449 

thjough her pathways of the world. Her direct individu- 
ality rejected the performance of simpleton, and her lively 
blood, the warmer for its containment, quickened her to 
penetrate things and natures ; and if as yet, in justness 
to the loyal male friend, she forbore to name him con- 
spirator, she read both him and Emma, whose inner bosom 
was revealed to her, without an effort to see. But her 
characteristic chasteness of mind, — ^not coldness of the 
blood, — which had supported an arduous conflict, past 
all existing rights closely to depict, and which barbed her 
to pierce to the wishes threatening her freedom, deceived 
her now to think her flaming blushes came of her relentless 
divination on behalf of her recovered treasure : whereby 
the clear reading of others distracted the view of herself. 
For one may be the cleverest alive, and still hoodwinked 
while blood is young and warm. 

The perpetuity of the contrast presented to her reflec- 
tions, of Redworth's healthy, open, practical, cheering 
life, and her own freakishly interwinding, darkly pene- 
trative, simulacrum of a life, cheerless as well as useless, 
forced her humiliated consciousness by degrees, in spite 
of pride, to the knowledge that she was engaged in a 
struggle with him; and that he was the stronger; — ^it 
might be, the worthier : she thought him the handsomer. 
He throve to the hght of day, and she spun a siUy web 
that meshed her in her intricacies. Her intuition of 
Emma's wishes led to this ; he was constantly before her. 
She tried to laugh at the image of the concrete cricketer, 
half-flannelled, and red of face: the 'lucky calculator,' 
as she named him to Emma, who shook her head, and 
sighed. The abstract, healthful and powerful man, able 
to play besides profitably working, defied those poor 
efforts. Consequently, at once she sent up a bubble to 
the skies, where it became a spheral realm, of far too fine 
an atmosphere for men to breathe in it ; and thither she 



450 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

transported herself at will, whenever the contrast, with 
its accompanying menace of a tyrannic subjugation, 
overshadowed her. In the above, the kingdom com- 
posed of her shattered romance of life and her present 
aspirings, she was free and safe. Nothing touched her 
there — ^nothing that Redworth did. She could not have 
admitted there . her ideal of a hero. It was the sub- 
limation of a virgin's conception of life, better fortified 
against the enemy. She peopled it with souls of the great 
and pure, gave it illimitable horizons, dreamy nooks, 
ravishing landscapes, melodies of the poets of music. 
Higher and more celestial than the Salvatore, it was like- 
wise, now she could assure herself serenely, independent 
of the horrid blood-emotions. Living up there, she had 
not a feeling. 

The natural result of this habit of ascending to a super- 
lunary home, was the loss of an exact sense of how she 
was behaving below. At the Berkshire mansion, she wore 
a supercilious air, almost as icy as she accused the place of 
being. Emma knew she must have seen in the library a 
row of her literary ventures, exquisitely bound ; but there 
was no allusion to the books. Mary Paynham's portrait of 
Mrs. Warwick hung staring over the fireplace, and was 
criticized, as though its occupancy of that position had 
no significance. 

'He thinks she has a streak of genius,' Diana said to 
Emma. 

'It may be shown in time,' Emma replied, for a com- 
ment on the work. 'He should know, for the Spanish 
pictures are noble acquisitions.' 

'They are, doubtless, good investments.' 

He had been foolish enough to say, in Diana's hearing, 
that he considered the purchase of the Berkshire estate a 
good investment. It had not yet a name. She sug- 
gested various titles for Emma to propose : 'The Funds' ; 



A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN 451 

or 'Capital Towers'; or 'Dividend Manor'; or 'Rail- 
holm'; blind to the evidence of inflicting pain. Emma, 
from what she had guessed concerning the purchaser of 
The Crossways, apprehended a discovery there which 
might make Tony's treatment of him unkinder, seeing 
that she appeared actuated contrariously ; and only her 
invalid's new happiness in the small excursions she was 
capable of taking to a definite spot, of some homely 
attractiveness, moved her to foUow her own proposal for 
the journey. Diana pleaded urgently, childishly in tone, 
to have Arthur Rhodes with them, 'so as to be sure of a 
sympathetic companion for a walk on the Downs.' At 
The Crossways, they were soon aware that Mr. Redworth's 
domestics were in attendance to serve them. Manifestly 
the house was his property, and not much of an invest- 
ment! The principal bed-room, her father's once, and 
her own, devoted now to Emma's use, appalled her with 
a resemblance to her London room. She had noticed 
some of her furniture at 'Dividend Manor,' and chosen 
to consider it/ in the light of a bargain from a purchase 
at the sale of her goods. Here was her bed, her writing- 
table, her chair of authorship, desks, books, ornaments, 
water-colour sketches. And the drawing-room was fitted 
with her brackets and ^tag^res, holding every knick- 
knack she had possessed and scattered, small bronzes, 
antiques, ivory junks, quaint ivory figures Chinese and 
Japanese, bits of porcelain, silver incense-urns, dozens of 
dainty sundries. She had a shamed curiosity to spy for 
an omission of one of them; all were there. The Cross- 
ways had been turned into a trap. 

Her reply to this blunt wooing, conspired, she felt justi- 
fied in thinking, between him and Emma, was emphatic in 
muteness. She treated it as if unobserved. At night, in 
bed, the scene of his mission from Emma to her under 
this roof, barred her customary ascent to her planetary 



452 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

kingdom. Next day she took Arthur after breakfast for a 
walk on the Downs and remamed absent till ten minutes 
before the hour of dinner. As to that young gentleman, 
he was near to being caressed in public. Arthur's 
opinions, his good sayings, were quoted; his excellent 
companionship on really poetical walks, and perfect sym- 
pathy, praised to his face. Challenged by her initiative 
to a kind of language that threw Redworth out, he de- 
claimed : ' We pace with some who make young morning 
stale.' 

'Oh! stale as peel of fruit long since consumed,' she 
chimed. 

And so they proceeded; and they laughed, Emma 
smiled a little, Redworth did the same beneath one of his 
questioning frowns — a sort of fatherly grimace. 

A suspicion that this man, when infatuated, was able to 
practise the absurdest benevolence, the burlesque of 
chivalry, as a man-admiring sex esteems it, stirred very 
naughty depths of the woman in Diana, labouring under 
her perverted mood. She put him to proof, for the chance 
of arming her wickedest to despise him. Arthur was 
petted, consulted, cited, flattered all round; all but 
caressed. She played, with a reserve, the maturish young 
woman smitten by an adorable youth ; and enjoyed doing 
it because she hoped for a visible effect — more paternal 
benevolence — and could do it so dispassionately. Co- 
quettry, Emma thought, was most unworthily shown ; and 
it was of the worst description. Innocent of conspiracy, 
she had seen the array of Tony's lost household treasures : 
she wondered at a heartlessness that would not even utter 
common thanks to the friendly man for the compliment 
of prizing her portrait and the things she had owned ; and 
there seemed an effort to wound him. 

The invalided woman, charitable with allowances for 
her erratic husband, could offer none for the woman of a 



A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN 453 

long widowhood, that had become a trebly sensitive 
maidenhood; abashed by her knowledge of the world, 
animated by her abouncOng blood; cherishing her new 
freedom, dreading the menacer ; feeling that though she 
held the citadel, she was daily less sure of its founda- 
tions, and that her hope of some last romance in life was 
going ; for in him shone not a glimpse. He appeared to 
Diana as a fatal power, attracting her without sympathy, 
benevolently overcoming : one of those good men, strong 
men, who subdue and do not Irindle. The enthralment 
revolted a nature capable of accepting subjection only 
by burning. In return for his moral excellence, she gave 
him the moral sentiments: esteem, gratitude, abstract 
admiration, perfect faith. But the man? She could 
not now say she had never been loved; and a flood of 
tenderness rose in her bosom, swelling from springs that 
she had previously reproved with a desperate severity: 
the unhappy, unsatisfied yearning to be more than loved, 
to love. It was alive, out of the wreck of its first trial. 
This, the secret of her natural frailty, was bitter to her 
pride: chastely-minded as she was, it whelmed her. 
And then her comic imagination pictured Redworth 
dramatically making love. And to a widow ! It proved 
him to be senseless of romance. Poetic men take aim 
at maidens. His devotedness to a widow was charged 
against him by the widow's shudder at antecedents dis- 
tasteful to her soul, a discolouration of her life. She wished 
to look entirely forward, as upon a world washed clear of 
night, not to be cast back on her antecedents by practical 
wooings or words of love ; to live spiritually ; free of the 
shower at her eyelids attendant on any idea of her loving. 
The woman who talked of the sentimentalist's 'fiddling 
harmonics,' herself stressed the material chords, in her 
attempt to escape out of herself and away from her 
pursuer. 



454 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Meanwhile she was as little conscious of what she was 
doing as of how she appeared. Arthur went about with 
the moony air of surcharged sweetness, and a speculation 
on it, alternately tiptoe and prostrate. More of her in- 
toxicating wine was administered to him, in utter thought- 
lessness of consequences to one who was but a boy and a 
friend, almost of her own rearing. She told Emma, when 
leaving The Crossways, that she had no desire to look on 
the place again : she wondered at Mr. Redworth's liking 
such a solitude. In truth, the look back on it let her 
perceive that her husband haunted it, and disfigured the 
man, of real generosity, as her heart confessed, but whom 
she accused of a lack of prescient delicacy, for not know- 
ing she would and must be haunted there. Blaming him, 
her fountain of colour shot up, at a murmur of her unjust- 
ness and the poor man's hopes. 

A week later, the youth she publicly named 'her 
Arthur' came down to Copsley with news of his having 
been recommended by Mr. Redworth for the post of 
secretary to an old Whig nobleman famous for his patron- 
age of men of letters. And besides, he expected to inherit, 
he said, and gazed in a way to sharpen her instincts. 
The wine he had drunk of late from her flowing vintage 
was in his eyes. They were on their usual rambles out 
along the heights. 'Accept, by all means, and thank 
Mr. Redworth,' said she, speeding her tongue to intercept 
him. 'Literature is a good stick and a bad horse. In- 
deed, I ought to know. You can always write; I hope 
you will.' 

She stepped fast, hearing: 'Mrs. Warwick — Diana! 
May I take your hand?' 

This was her pretty piece of work ! 'Why should you? 
If you speak my Christian name, no: you forfeit any 
pretext. And pray, don't loiter. We are going at the 
pace of the firm of Potter and Dawdle, and you know they 



A WOMAN A MAID AGAIN 455 

never got their shutters down till it was time to put them 
up again.' 

Nimble-footed as she was, she pressed ahead too fleetly 
for amorous eloquence to have a chance. She heard 
'Diana !' twice, through the rattling of her discourse and 
flapping of her dress. 

'Christian names are coin that seem to have an indif- 
ferent valuation of the property they claim,' she said in 
the Copsley garden; 'and as for hands, at meeting and 
parting, here is the friendliest you cotild have. Only 
don't look rueful. My dear Arthur, spare me that, or I 
shall blame myself horribly.' 

His chance had gone, and he composed his face. No 
hope in speaking had nerved him ; merely the passion to 
speak. Diana understood the state, and pitied the natu- 
rally modest young fellow, and chafed at herself as a 
senseless incendiary, who did mischief right and left, from 
seeking to shun the apparently inevitable. A side- 
thought intruded, that he would have done his wooing 
poetically — not in the burly storm, or bull-Saxon, she 
apprehended. Supposing it imperative with her to 
choose? She looked up, and the bird of broader wing 
darkened the whole sky, bidding her know that she had 
no choice. 

Emma was requested to make Mr. Redworth acquainted 
with her story, all of it : — ' So that this exalted friend- 
ship of his may be shaken to a common level. He has an 
unbearably high estimate of me, and it hurts me. Tell 
him all ; and more than even you have known : — but for 
his coming to me, on the eve of your passing under the 
surgeon's hands, I should have gone — flung the world 
my glove! A matter of minutes. Ten minutes later! 
The train was to start for France at eight, and I was 
awaited. I have to thank heaven that the man was one 
of those who can strike icily. Tell Mr. Redworth what 



456 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

I say. You two converse upon every subject. One may 
be too loftily respected — in my case. By and by — ^for he 
is a tolerant reader of life and women, I think — we shall 
be humdrum friends of the lasting order.' 

Emma's cheeks were as red as Diana's. 'I fancy Tom 
Redworth has not much to learn concerning any person he 
cares for,' she said. 'You like him? I have lost touch 
of you, my dear, and ask.' 

' I like him : that I can say. He is everything I am 
not. But now I am free, the sense of being undeservedly 
over-esteemed imposes fetters, and I don't like them. I 
have been called a Beauty. Rightly or other, I have had 
a Beauty's career ; and a curious caged beast's life I have 
found it. Will you promise me to speak to him? And 
also, thank him for helping Arthur Rhodes to a situation.' 

At this, the tears fell from her. And so enigmatical had 
she grown to Emma, that her bosom friend took them for 
a confessed attachment to the youth. 

Diana's wretched emotion shamed her from putting any 
inquiries whether Redworth had been told. He came re- 
peatedly, and showed no change of face, always continu- 
ing in the form of huge hovering griffin; until an idea, 
instead of the monster bird, struck her. Might she not, 
after all, be cowering under imagination? The very 
maidenly idea wakened her womanliness — to reproach her 
remainder of pride, not to see more accurately. It was 
the reason why she resolved, against Emma's extreme 
entreaties, to take lodgings in the South valley below the 
heights, where she could be independent of fancies and 
perpetual visitors, but near her beloved at any summons 
of urgency; which Emma would not habitually send 
because of the coming of a particular gentleman. Dresses 
were left at Copsley for dining and sleeping there upon 
occasion, and poor Danvers, despairing over the riddle of 
her mistress, was condemned to the melancholy descent. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA 457 

' It 's my belief/ she confided to Lady Dunstane's maid 
Bartlett, ' she '11 hate men all her life after that Mr. Dacier.' 
If women were deceived, and the riddle deceived herself, 
there is excuse for a plain man like Redworth in not having 
the slightest clue to the daily shifting feminine maze he 
beheld. The strange thing was, that during her maiden 
time she had never been shifty or flighty, invariably 
limpid and direct. 



CHAPTER XLI 

CONTAINS A EEVELATION OF THE ORIGIN OF THE 
TIGRESS IN DIANA 

An afternoon of high summer blazed over London 
through the City's awning of smoke, and the three classes 
of the population, relaxed by the weariful engagement 
with what to them was a fruitless heat, were severally 
bathing their ideas in dreams of the contrast possible to 
embrace : breezy seas or moors, aerial Alps, cool beer. 
The latter, if confessedly the lower comfort, is the readier 
at command; and Thomas Redworth, whose perspiring 
frame was directing his inward vision to fly for solace to 
a trim new yacht, built on his lines, beckoning from 
Southampton Water, had some of the amusement proper 
to things plucked off the levels, in the conversation of a 
couple of journeymen close ahead of him, as he made his 
way from a quiet street of brokers' offices to a City Bank. 
One asked the other if he had ever tried any of that cold 
stuff they were now selling out of barrows, with cream. 
His companion answered, that he had not got much 
opinion of stuff of the sort ; and what was it like ? 

'Well, it's cheap, it ain't bad; it's cooling. But it 
ain't refreshing.' 



458 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Just what I reckoned all that newf angle rubbish.' 
Without a consultation, the conservatives in beverage 
filed with a smart turn about, worthy of veterans at parade 
on the drill-ground, into a public-house; and a dialogue 
chiefly remarkable for absence of point, furnished matter 
to the politician's head of the hearer. Provided that their 
beer was unadulterated ! Beer they would have ; and 
why not, in weather like this? But how to make the 
publican honest! And he was not the only trickster 
preying on the multitudinous poor copper crowd, rightly 
to be protected by the silver and the golden. Revelations 
of the arts practised to plump them with raw-earth and 
minerals in the guise of nourishment, had recently knocked 
at the door of the general conscience and obtained a civil 
reply from the footman. Repulsive as the thought was 
to one still holding to Whiggish Liberalism, though flying 
various Radical kites, he was caught by the decisive ultra- 
torrent, and whirled to amid the necessity for the inter- 
ference of the State, to stop the poisoning of the poor. 
Upper classes have never legislated systematically in their 
interests ; and quid . . . rabidse tradis ovile lupse ? says 
one of the multitude. We may be seeing fangs of wolves 
where fleeces waxed. The State that makes it a vital 
principle to concern itself with the helpless poor, meets 
instead of waiting for Democracy; which is a perilous 
flood but when it is dammed. Or else, in course of time, 
luxurious yachting, my friend, will encounter other reefs 
and breakers than briny ocean's! Capital, whereat 
Diana Warwick aimed her superbest sneer, has its instant 
duties. She theorized on the side of poverty, and might 
do so : he had no right to be theorizing on the side of 
riches. Across St. George's Channel, the cry for humanity 
in Capital was an agony. He ought to be there, doing, 
not cogitating. The post of Irish Secretary must be won 
by real service founded on absolute local knowledge. Yes, 



THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA 459 

and sympathy, if you like ; but sympathy is for proving, 
not prating. . . . 

These were the meditations of a man in love; veins, 
arteries, headpiece in love, and constantly brooding at a 
solitary height over the beautiful coveted object ; only too 
bewildered by her multifarious evanescent feminine eva- 
sions, as of colours on a ruffled water, to think of pouncing : 
for he could do nothing to soften, nothing that seemed to 
please her : and all the while, the motive of her mind im- 
pelled him in reflection beyond practicable hmits : even 
pointing him to apt quotations! Either he thought 
within her thoughts, or his own were at her disposal. Nor 
was it sufficient for him to be sensible of her influence, to 
restrain the impetus he took from her. He had already 
wedded her morally, and much that he did, as well as 
whatever he debated, came of Diana ; more than if they 
had been coupled, when his downright practical good sense 
could have spoken. She held him suspended, swaying him 
in that posture ; and he was not a whit ashamed of it. 
The beloved woman was throned on the very highest of 
the man. 

Furthermore, not being encouraged, he had his peculiar 
reason for delay, though now he could offer her wealth. 
She had once in his hearing derided the unpleasant hiss of 
the ungainly English matron's title of Mrs. There was no 
harm in the accustomed title, to his taste ; but she disliking 
it, he did the same, on her special behalf ; and the prospect, 
funereally draped, of a title sweeter-sounding to her ears, 
was above his horizon. Bear in mind, that he underwent 
the reverse of encouragement. Any small thing to please 
her was magnified, and the anticipation of it nerved the 
modest hopes of one who deemed himself and any man 
alive deeply her inferior. 

Such was the mood of the lover condemned to hear 
another malignant scandal defiling the name of the woman 



460 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

he worshipped. Sir Lukin Dunstane, extremely hurried, 
bumped him on the lower step of the busy Bank, and said : 
'Pardon!' and 'Ha! Redworth! making money?' 

'Why, what are you up to down here?' he was asked, 
and he answered: 'Down to the Tower, to an officer 
quartered there. Not bad quarters, but an infernal dis- 
tance. Business.' 

Having cloaked his expedition to the distance with the 
comprehensive word, he repeated it ; by which he feared 
he had rendered it too significant, and he said : ' No, no ; 
nothing particular'; and that caused the secret he con- 
tained to swell in his breast rebelliously, informing the 
candid creature of the fact of his hating to lie : whereupon 
thus he poured himself out, in the quieter bustle of an alley, 
off the main thoroughfare. ' You 're a friend of hers. 
I 'm sure you care for her reputation ; you 're an old friend 
of hers, and she 's my wife's dearest friend ; and I 'm fond 
of her too ; and I ought to be, and ought to know, and do 
know : — pure ? Strike off my fist if there 's a spot on her 
character ! And a scoundrel like that fellow Wroxeter ! — 
Damnedest rage I ever was in! — Swears . . . down at 
Lockton . . . when she was a girl. Why, Redworth, I 
can tell you, when Diana Warwick was a girl !' 

Redworth stopped him. 'Did he say it in your 
presence ? ' 

Sir Lukin was drawn-up by the harsh question. ' Well, 
no ; not exactly.' He tried to hesitate, but he was in the 
hot vein of a confidence and he wanted advice. 'The cur 
said it to a woman — ^hang the woman! And she hates 
Diana Warwick : I can't tell why — a regular snake's hate. 
By Jove ! how women can hate !' 

'Who is the woman?' said Redworth. 

Sir Lukin complained of the mob at his elbows. 'I 
don't like mentioning names here.' 

A convenient open door of offices invited him to drag his 



THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA 461 

receptacle, and possible counsellor, into the passage, where 
immedi-ately he bethought him of a postponement of the 
distinct communication ; but the vein was too hot. ' I 
say, Redworth, I wish you 'd dine with me. Let 's drive 
up to my Club. — Very well, two words. And I warn you, 
I shall call him out, and make it appear it 's about another 
woman, who '11 like nothing so much, if I know the Jezebel. 
Some women are hussies, let 'em be handsome as houris. 
And she 's a fire-ship ; by heaven, she is ! Come, you 're 
a friend of my wife's, but you 're a man of the world and 
my friend, and you know how fellows are tempted, Tom 
Redworth. — Cur though he is, he 's likely to step out and 
receive a lesson. — Well, he 's the favoured cavalier for the 
present . . . h'm . . . Fryar-Gunnett. Swears he told 
her, circumstantially ; and it was down at Lockton, when 
Diana "Warwick was a girl. Swears she '11 spit her venom 
at her, so that Diana Warwick shan't hold her head up in 
London Society, what with that cur Wroxeter, Old Dannis- 
burgh, and Dacier. And it does count a list, doesn't it ? 
— confound the handsome hag ! She 's jealous of a dark 
rival. I 've been down to Colonel Hartswood at the 
Tower, and he thinks Wroxeter deserves horsewhipping, 
and we may manage it. I know you 're dead against 
duelling ; and so am I, on my honour. But you see there 
are cases where a lady must be protected ; and anything 
new, left to circulate against a lady who has been talked 
of twice — Oh, by Jove ! it must be stopped. If she has a 
male friend on earth, it must be stopped on the spot.' 

Redworth eyed Sir Lukin curiously through his wrath. 

'We '11 drive up to your Club,' he said. 

'Hartswood dines with me this evening, to confer,' 
rejoined Sir Lukin. 'Will you meet him?' 

' I can't,' said Redworth, ' I have to see a lady, whose 
afifairs I have been attending to in the City ; and I 'm 
engaged for the evening. You perceive, my good fellow,' 



462 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

he resumed, as they rolled along, ' this is a delicate busi- 
ness. You have to consider your wife. Mrs. Warwick's 
name won't come up, but another woman's .will.' 

' I meet Wroxeter at a gambling-house he frequents, and 
publicly call him cheat — slap his face, if need be.' 

'Sure to!' repeated Redworth. 'No stupid pretext 
will quash the woman's name. Now, such a thing as a 
duel would give pain enough.' 

' Of course ; I understand,' Sir Lukin nodded his clear 
comprehension. 'But what is it you advise, to trounce 
the scoundrel, and silence him ? ' 

' Leave it to me for a day. Let me have your word that 
you won't take a step: positively — ^neither you nor 
Colonel Hartswood. I '11 see you by appointment at your 
Club.' Redworth looked up over the chimneys. ' We 're 
going to have a storm and a gale, I can tell you.' 

'Gale and storm!' cried Sir Lukin; 'what has that, 
got to do with it?' 

'Think of something else for a time.' 

' And that brute of a woman — deuced handsome she is I 
— if you care for fair women, Redworth : — she 's a Venus 
jumped slap out of the waves, and the DevU for sire 
— that you learn : — ^running about, sowing her lies. She 's 
a yellow witch. Oh ! but she 's a shameless minx. And 
a black-leg cur like Wroxeter ! Any woman intimate with 
a fellow like that, stamps herself. I loathe her. Sort of 
woman who swears in the morning you 're the only man on 
earth; and next day — that evening — engaged! — fee ta 
Polly Hopkins — and it 's a gentleman, a nobleman, my 
lord ! — been going on behind your back half the season ! — 
and she isn't hissed when she abuses a lady, a saint in com- 
parison! You know the world, old fellow: — Brighton, 
Richmond, visits to a friend as deep in the bog. How 
Fryar-Gunnett — a man, after all — can stand it ! And 
drives of an afternoon for an airing — by heaven ! You 're^ 



THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA 463 

out of that mess, Redworth : not much taste for the sex ; 
and you 're right, you 're lucky. Upon my word, the cor- 
ruption of society in the present day is awful ; it 's appal- 
ling. — I rattled at her : and oh ! dear me, perks on her hind 
heels and defies me to prove : and she 's no pretender, but 
hopes she 's as good as any of my "chaste Dianas." My 
dear old friend, it 's when you come upon women of that 
kind you have a sickener. And I 'm bound by the best 
there is in a man — ^honour, gratitude, aU the list — to 
defend Diana Warwick.' 

'So, you see, for your wife's sake, your name can't be 
hung on a woman of that kind,' said Redworth. 'I 'U call 
here the day after to-morrow at three p.m.' 

Sir Lukin descended and vainly pressed Redworth to 
run up into his Club for refreshment. Said he roguishly : 
'Who 's the lady?' 

The tone threw Redworth on his frankness. 

'The lady I 've been doing business for in the City, is 
Miss Paynham.' 

' I saw her once at Copsley ; good-looking. Cleverish ? ' 

'She has abUity.' 

Entering his Club, Sir Lukin was accosted in the reading- 
room by a cavalry ofiBcer, a Colonel Launay, an old Harro- 
vian, who stood at the window and asked him whether it 
was not Tom Redworth in the cab. Another, of the same 
School, standing squared before a sheet of one of the 
evening newspapers, heard the name and joined them, 
saying: 'Tom Redworth is going to be married, some 
fellow told me.' 

'He'U make a deuced good husbanii to any woman — if 
it 's true,' said Sir Lukin, with Miss Paynham ringing in 
his head. ' He 's a cold-blooded old boy, and likes women 
for their intellects.' 

Colonel Launay hummed in meditative emphasis. He 
stared at vacancy with a tranced eye, and turning a similar 



464 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

gaze on Sir Lukin, as if through him, burst out : 'Oh, by 
George, I say, what a hugging that woman '11 get !' 

The cocking of ears and queries of Sir Lukin put him to 
the test of his right to the remark ; for it soimded of occult 
acquaintance with interesting subterranean facts; and 
there was a communication, in brief syllables and the dot 
language, crudely masculine. Immensely surprised, Sir 
Lukin exclaimed : * Of course ! when fellows live quietly 
and are careful of themselves. Ah ! you may think you 
know a man for years, and you don't : you don't know 
more than an inch or two of him. Why, of course, Tom 
Redworth would be uxorious — the very man! And tell 
us what has become of the Firefly now ? One never sees 
her. Didn't complain?' 

'Very much the contrary.' 

Both gentlemen were grave, believing their knowledge 
in the subterranean world of a wealthy city to give them 
a positive cognizance of female humanity; and the sub- 
stance of Colonel Launay's communication had its impres- 
siveness for them. 

'Well, it's a turn right-about-face for me,' said Sir 
Lukin. ' What a world we live in ! I fancy I 've hit on 
the woman he means to marry ; — had an idea of another 
woman once ; but he 's one of your friendly fellows with 
women. That 's how it was I took him for a fish. Great 
mistake, I admit. But Tom Redworth 's a man of morals 
after all ; and when those men do break loose for a plunge 
— ha ! Have you ever boxed with him ? Well, he keeps 
himself in training, I can tell you.' 

Sir Lukin's round of visits drew him at night to Lady 
Singleby's, where he sighted the identical young lady of his 
thoughts. Miss Paynham, temporarily a guest of the 
house; and he talked to her of Redworth, and had the 
satisfaction to spy a blush, a rageing blush : which avowal 
presented her to his view as an exceedingly good-looking 



THE ORIGIN OF THE TIGRESS IN DIANA 465 

girl ; so that he began mentally to praise Redworth for a 
manly superiority to small trifles and the worid's tattle. 

'You saw him to-day,' he said. 

She answered: 'Yes. He goes down to Copsley to- 
morrow.' 

'I think not,' said Sir Lukin. 

' I have it from him.' She closed her eyelids in speaking. 

'He and I have some rather serious business in town.' 

'Serious?' 

' Don't be alarmed : not concerning him.' 

'Whom, then? You have told me so much — I have a 
right to know.' 

'Not an atom of danger, I assure you?* 

'It concerns Mrs. Warwick!' said she. 

Sir Lukin thought the guess extraordinary. He pre- 
served an impenetrable air. But he had spoken enough to 
set that giddy head spinning. 

Nowhere during the night was Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett 
visible. Earlier than usual, she was riding next day in the 
Row, alone for perhaps two minutes, and Sir Lukin passed 
her, formally saluting. He could not help the look behind 
him, she sat so bewitchingly on horseback ! He looked, 
and behold, her riding-whip was raised erect from the 
elbow. It was his horse that wheeled; compulsorily he 
was borne at a short canter to her side. 

'Your commands?' 

The handsome Amabel threw him a sombre glance from 
the corners of her uplifted eyelids ; and snakish he felt it ; 
but her colour and the line of her face went well with 
sullenness; and, her arts of fascination cast aside, .she 
fascinated him more in seeming homelier, girlish. If the 
trial of her beauty of a woman in a temper can bear the 
strain, she has attractive lures indeed; irresistible to the 
amorous idler : and when, in addition, being the guilty 
person, she plays the injured, her show of temper on the 



466 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

taking face pitches him into perplexity with his own 
emotions, creating a desire to strike and be stricken, howl 
and set howling, which is of the happiest augury for tender 
reconcilement, on the terms of the gentleman on his knee- 
cap. 

'You've been doing a pretty thing!' she said, and 
briefly she named her house and half an hour, and flew. 
Sir Lukin was left to admire the figure of the horsewoman. 
Really, her figure had an air of vindicating her success- 
fully, except for the poison she spat at Diana Warwick. 
And what pretty thing had he been doing ? He reviewed 
dozens of speculations until the impossibility of seizing 
one determined him to go to Mrs. Fryar-Gunnett at the 
end of the half-hour — 'Just to see what these women have 
to say for themselves.' 

Some big advance drops of Redworth's thunderstorm 
drawing gloomily overhead, warned him to be quick and 
get his horse into stables. Dismounted, the sensational 
man was irresolute, suspecting a female trap. But curi- 
osity, combined with the instinctive turning of his nose in 
the direction of the lady's house, led him thither, to an 
accompaniment of celestial growls, which impressed him, 
judging by that naughty-girl face of hers and the woman's 
tongue she had, as a likely prelude to the scene to come 
below. 



CHAPTER XLII 

THE PENULTIMATE : SHOWING A FINAL STRUGGLE FOR 
LIBERTY AND RUN INTO HARNESS 

The prophet of the storm had forgotten his prediction; 
which, however, was of small concern to him, apart from 
the ducking he received midway between the valley and 



THE PENULTIMATE 467 

the heights of Copsley; whither he was bound, on a 
mission so serious that, according to his custom in such 
instances, he chose to take counsel of his active legs : an 
adviseable course when the brain wants clearing and the 
heart fortifying. Diana's face was clearly before him 
through the deluge; now in single features, the dimple 
running from her mouth, the dark bright eyes and cut of 
eyelids, and nostrils alive under their lightning; now in 
her whole radiant smile, or musefully listening, nursing a 
thought. Or she was obscured, and he felt the face. The 
individuality of it had him by the heart, beyond his powers 
of visioning. On his arrival, he stood in the hall, adrip like 
one of the trees of the lawn, laughing at Lady Dunstane's 
anxious exclamations. His portmanteau had come and 
he was expected; she hurried out at the first ringing of 
the bell, to greet and reproach him for walking in such 
weather. 

'Diana has left me,' she said, when he reappeared in 
dry clothing. 'We are neighbours; she has taken 
cottage-lodgings at Selshall, about an hour's walk : — one 
of her wHd dreams of independence. Are you disap- 
pointed ? ' 

'I am,' Redworth confessed. 

Emma coloured. 'She requires an immense deal of 
humouring at present. The fit will wear off; only we 
must wait for it. Any menace to her precious liberty 
makes her prickly. She is passing the day with the 
Pettigrews, who have taken a place near her village for a 
month. She promised to dine and sleep here, if she 
returned in time. What is your news?' 

'Nothing; the world wags on.' 

'You have nothing special to tell her?' 

'Nothing'; he hummed; 'nothing, I fancy, that she 
does not know.' 

'You said you were disappointed.' 



468 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'It 's always a pleasure to see her.' 

'Even in her worst moods, I find it so.' 

'Oh! moods!' quoth Redworth. 

'My friend, they are to be reckoned, with women.' 

'Certainly; what I meant was, that I don't count 
them against women.' 

'Good : but my meaning was ... I think I remember 
your once comparing them and the weather; and you 
spoke of the "one point more variable in women." You 
may forestall your storms. There is no calculating the 
effect of a few little words at a wrong season.' 

' With women ! I suppose not. I have no pretension 
to a knowledge of the sex.' 

Emma imagined she had spoken plainly enough, if he 
had immediate designs ; and she was not sure of that, and 
wished rather to shun his confidences while Tony was in 
her young widowhood, revelling in her joy of liberty. 
By and by, was her thought: perhaps next year. She 
dreaded Tony's refusal of the yoke, and her iron-hardness 
to the dearest of men proposing it; and moreover, her 
further to be apprehended holding to the refusal, for the 
sake of consistency, if it was once uttered. For her own 
sake, she shrank from hearing intentions, that distressing 
the good man, she would have to discountenance. His 
candour in confessing disappointment, and his open face, 
his excellent sense too, gave her some assurance of his 
not being foolishly impetuous. After he had read to her 
for an hour, as his habit was on evenings and wet days, 
their discussion of this and that in the book lulled any 
doubts she had of his prudence, enough to render it even 
a dubious point whether she might be speculating upon 
a wealthy bachelor in the old-fashioned ultra-feminine 
manner; the which she so abhorred that she rejected 
the idea. Consequently, Redworth's proposal^ to walk 
down to the valley for Diana, and bring her back, struck 



THE PENULTIMATE 469 

her as natural when a shaft of western sunshine from a 
whitened edge of raincloud struck her windows. She 
let him go without an intimated monition or a thought 
of one; thinking simply that her Tony would be more 
likely to come, having him for escort. Those are silly 
women who are always imagining designs and intrigues 
and future palpitations in the commonest actions of 
either sex. Emma Dunstane leaned to the contrast 
between herself and them. 

Danvers was at the house about sunset, reporting her 
mistress to be on her way, with Mr. Redworth. The 
maid's tale of the dreadful state of the lanes, accounted 
for their tardiness; and besides the sunset had been 
magnificent. Diana knocked at Emma's bedroom door, 
to say, outside, hurriedly in passing, how splendid the 
sunset had been, and beg for an extra five minutes. 
Taking full fifteen, she swam into the drawing-room, 
lively with kisses on Emma's cheeks, and excuses, refer- 
ring her misconduct in being late to the seductions of ' Sol' 
in his glory. Redworth said he had rarely seen so wonder- 
ful a sunset. The result of their unanimity stirred 
Emma's bosom to match-making regrets; and the walk 
of the pair together, alone under the propitious flaming 
heavens, appeared to her now as an opportunity lost. 
From sisterly sympathy, she fancied she could understand 
Tony's liberty-loving reluctance: she had no compre- 
hension of the backwardness of the man beholding the 
dear woman handsomer than in her maiden or her 
married time: and sprightlier as well. She chatted 
deliciously, and drew Redworth to talk his best on his 
choicer subjects, playing over them like a fire- wisp, deter- 
mined at once to flounder him and to make him shine. 
Her tender esteem for the man was transparent through 
it all; and Emma, whose evening had gone happily 
between them, said to her, in their privacy, before 



470 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

parting: 'You seemed to have been inspired by "Sol," 
my dear. You do like him, don't you?' 

Diana vowed she adored him; and with a face of 
laughter in rosy suffusion, put Sol for Redworth, Red- 
worth for Sol; but, watchful of Emma's visage, said 
finally: 'If you mean the mortal man, I think him up 
to almost all your hyperboles — as far as men go ; and he 
departed to his night's rest, which I hope will be good, 
like a king. Not to admire him, would argue me senseless, 
heartless. I do ; I have reason to.' 

'And you make him the butt of your ridicule, Tony.' 

'No; I said "like a king"; and he is one. He has, 
to me, morally the grandeur of your Sol sinking, Casar 
stabbed, Cato on the sword-point. He is Roman, Spartan, 
Imperial ; English, if you like, the pick of the land. It 
is an honour to call him friend, and I do trust he will 
choose the pick among us, to make her a happy woman 
— if she 's for running in harness. There, I can't say 
more.' 

Emma had to be satisfied with it, for the present. 

They were astonished at breakfast by seeing Sir Lukin 
ride past the windows. He entered with the veritable 
appetite of a cavalier who had ridden from London fast- 
ing ; and why he had come at that early hour, he was too 
hungry to explain. The ladies retired to read their 
letters by the morning's post ; whereupon Sir Lukin called 
to Redworth ; ' I met that woman in the park yesterday, 
and had to stand a volley. I went beating about London 
for you all the afternoon and evening. She swears you 
rated her like a scullery wench, and threatened to ruin 
Wroxeter. Did you see him? She says, the story's 
true in one particular, that he did snatch a kiss, and got 
mauled. Not so much to pay for it ! But what a 
ruffian — eh ? ' 

' I saw him,' said Redworth. ' He 's one of the new 



THE PENULTIMATE 471 

set of noblemen who take bribes to serve as baits for 
transactions in the City. They help to the ruin of their 
order, or are signs of its decay. We won't judge it by 
him. He favoured me with his "word of honour" that 
the thing you heard was entirely a misstatement, and so 
forth : — apologized, I suppose. He mumbled something.' 

'A thorough cur !' 

'He professed his readiness to fight, if either of us was 
not contented.' 

' He spoke to the wrong man. I 've half a mind to ride 
back and have him out for that rascal "osculation" — 
and the lady unwilling ! — and she a young one, a girl, 
under the protection of the house ! By Jove ! Redworth, 
when you come to consider the scoundrels men can be, it 
stirs a fellow's bile. There 's a deal of that sort of villany 
going — and succeeding sometimes ! He deserves the 
whip or a bullet.' 

■'A sermon from Lukin Dunstane might punish him.' 

'Oh! I 'm a sinner, I know. But, go and tell one 
woman of another woman, and that a lie ! That 's 
beyond me.' 

'The gradations of the deeps are perhaps measurable 
to those who are in them.' 

'The sermon's at me — pop!' said Sir Lukin. 'By 
the way, I 'm coming roimd to think Diana Warwick was 
right when she used to jibe at me for throwing up my 
commission. Idleness is the devil — or mother of him. 
I manage my estates ; but the truth is, it doesn't occupy 
my mind.' 

'Your time.' 

'My mind, I say.' 

'WTiichever you please.' 

'You 're crusty to-day, Redworth. Let me tell you, I 
think — and hard too, when the fit 's on me. However, 
you did right in stopping — I '11 own — a piece of folly. 



472 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

and shutting the mouths of those two ; though it caused 
me to come in for a regular drencher. But a pretty 
woman in a right-down termagant passion is good theatre ; 
because it can't last, at that pace ; and you 're sure of 
your agreeable tableau. Not that I trust her ten minutes 
out of sight — or any woman, except one or two ; my wife 
and Diana Warwick. Trust those you 've tried, old boy. 
Diana Warwick ought to be taught to thank you ; though 
I don't know how it 's to be done.' 

'The fact of it is,' Redworth frowned and rose, 'I've 
done mischief. I had no right to mix myself in it. I 'm 
seldom caught off my feet by an impulse ; but I was. I 
took the fever from you.' 

He squared his figure at the window, and looked up on 
a driving sky. 

' Come, let 's play open cards, Tom Redworth,' said 
Sir Lukin, leaving the table and joining his friend by the 
window. 'You moral men are doomed to be marrying 
men, always; and quite right. Not that one doesn't 
hear a roundabout thing or two about you: no harm. 
Very much the contrary: — as the world goes. But 
you 're the man to marry a wife ; and if I guess the lady, 
she 's a sensible girl and won't be jealous. I 'd swear she 
only waits for asking.' 

'Then you don't guess the lady,' said Redworth. 

'Mary Paynham?' 

The desperate half-laugh greeting the name convinced 
more than a dozen denials. 

Sir Lukin kept edging round for a full view of the friend 
who shunned inspection. 'But is it? . . . can it be? 
it must be, after all ! . . . why, of course it is ! But the 
thing staring us in the face is just what we never see. 
Just the husband for her ! — ^and she 's the wife ! Why, 
Diana Warwick 's the very woman, of course ! I re- 
member I used to think so before she was free to wed.' 



THE PENULTIMATE 473 

'She is not of that opinion.' Redworth blew a heavy 
breath ; and it should be chronicled as a sigh ; but it was 
hugely masculine. 

'Because you didn't attack, the moment she was free; 
that 's what upset my calculations,' the sagacious gentle- 
man continued, for a vindication of his acuteness : then 
seizing the reply: 'Refuses? You don't mean to say 
you 're the man to take a refusal ? and from a green 
widow in the blush? Did you see her cheeks when she. 
was peeping at the letter in her hand? She colours at. 
half a word— 4akes the lift of a finger for Hymen coming. 
And lots of fellows are after her ; I know it from Emmy. 
But you 're not the man to be refused. You 're her 
friend — ^her champion. That woman Fryar-Gimnett 
would have it you were the favoured lover, and sneered 
at my talk of old friendship. Women are always down 
dead on the facts; can't put them off a scent !' 

'There's the mischief!' Redworth blew again. 'I 
had no right to be championing Mrs. Warwick's name. 
Or the world won't give it, at all events. I 'm a blunder- 
ing donkey. Yes, she wishes to keep her liberty. And, 
upon my soul, I 'm in love with everjrthing she wishes ! 
I 've got the habit.' 

'Habit be hanged !' cried Sir Lukin. 'You 're in love 
with the woman. I know a little more of you now, Mr. 
Tom. You 're a fellow in earnest about what you da^ 
You 're feeling it now, on the rack, by heaven ! though 
you keep a bold face. Did she speak positively? — sort 
of feminine of "you're the monster, not the man"? or 
measured little doctor's dose of pity ? — worse sign ! 
You 're not going?' 

'If you'll drive me down in half an hour,' said Red- 
worth. 

' Give me an hour,' Sir Lukin replied, and went straight. 
to his wife's blue-room. 



474 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Diana was roused from a meditation on a letter she 
held, by the entrance of Emma in her bed-chamber, to 
whom she said: 'I have here the very craziest bit of 
writing ! — but what is disturbing you, dear ? ' 

Emma sat beside her, panting and composing her lips 
to speak. 'Do you love me? I throw policy to the 
winds, if only I can batter at you for your heart and find 
it ! Tony, do you love me ? But don't answer : give 
me your hand. You have rejected him!' 

'He has told you?' 

'No. He is not the man to cry out for a wound. He 
heard in London — Lukin has had the courage to tell me, 
after his fashion: — ^Tom Redworth heard an old story, 
coming from one of the baser kind of women: grossly 
false, he knew. I mention only Lord Wroxeter and 
Lockton. He went to man and woman both, and had it 
refuted, and stopped their tongues, on peril ; as he of all 
men is able to do when he wills it.' 

Observing the quick change in Tony's eyes, Emma 
exclaimed: 'How you looked disdain when you asked 
whether he had told me ! But why are you the hand- 
some tigress to him, of all men living ! The dear fellow, 
dear to me at least ! since the day he first saw you, has 
worshipped you and striven to serve you : — and harder 
than any Scriptural service to have the beloved woman 
to wife. I know nothing to compare with it, for he is a 
man of warmth. He is one of those rare men of honour 
who can command their passion; who venerate when 
they love : and those are the men that women select for 
punishment ! Yes, you ! It is to the woman he loves 
that he cannot show himself as he is, because he is at her 
feet. You have managed to stamp your spirit on him; 
and as a consequence, he defends you now, for flinging 
him off. And now his chief regret is, that he has caused 
his name to be coupled with yours. I suppose he had 



THE PENULTIMATE 475 

some poor hope, seeing you free. Or else the impulse 
to protect the woman of his heart and soul was too strong. 
I have seen what he suffered, years back, at the news of 
your engagement.' 

'Oh, for God's sake, don't,' cried Tony, tears running 
over, and her dream of freedom, her visions of romance, 
drowning. 

' It was like the snapping of the branch of an oak, when 
the trunk stands firm,' Emma resumed, in her desire to 
scourge as well as to soften. 'But similes applied to him 
will strike you as incongruous.' Tony swayed her body, 
for a negative, very girlishly and consciously. ' He prob- 
ably did not woo you in a poetic style, or the courtly by 
prescription.' Again Tony swayed ; she had to hug her- 
self under the stripes, and felt as if alone at sea, with her 
dear heavens pelting. 'You have sneered at him for 
his calculating — ^to his face: and it was when he was 
comparatively poor that he calculated — to his cost ! — 
that he dared not ask you to marry a man who could not 
offer you a tithe of what he considered fit for the peerless 
woman. Peerless, I admit. There he was not wrong. 
But if he had valued you half a grain less, he might have 
won you. You talk much of chivalry; you conceive a 
superhuman ideal, to which you fit a very indifferent 
wooden model, while the man of all the world the most 
chivalrous ! . . . He is ' a man quite other from what 
you think him: anything but a "Cuthbert Bering" or 
a "Man of Two Minds." He was in the drawing-room 
below, on the day I received your last maiden letter from 
The Crossways — now his property, in the hope of making 
it yours.' 

'I behaved abominably there!' interposed Tony, with 
a gasp. 

'Let it pass. At any rate, that was the prick of a 
needle, not the blow of a sword.' 



476 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

' But marriage, dear Emmy ! marriage ! Is marriage 
to be the end of me?' 

'What amazing apotheosis have you in prospect? 
And are you steering so particularly well by yourself ? ' 

'Miserably ! But I can dream. And the thought of a 
husband cuts me from any dreaming. It 's all dead flat 
earth at once !' 

'Would you have rejected him when you were a girl?' 

'I think so.' 

'The superior merits of another . . .?' 

'Oh, no, no, no, no ! I might have accepted him : and 
,.!l might not have made him happy. I wanted a hero, 
|and the jewelled garb and the feather did not suit 
/him.' 

'No; he is not that description of lay-figure. You 
have dressed it, and gemmed it, and — made your dis- 
covery. Here is a true man ; and if you can find me any 
of your heroes to match him, I wUl thank you. He came 
on the day I speak of, to consult me as to whether, with 
the income he then had . . . Well, I had to tell him you 
were engaged. The man has never wavered in his love 
of you since that day. He has had to bear something.' 

This was an electrical bolt into Tony's bosom, shaking 
her from self-pity and shame to remorseful pity of the 
suffering lover; and the tears ran ia streams, as she said : 
'He bore it, Emmy, he bore it.' She sobbed out: 'And 
he went on building a fortune and batting ! Whatever he 
undertakes he does perfectly — approve of the pattern or 
not. Oh! I have no doubt he had his nest of wishes 
piping to him all the while : only it seems quaint, dear, 
quaint, and against everything we 've been reading of 
lovers ! Love was his bread and butter I' Her dark 
eyes showered. 'And to tell you what you do not know 
of him, his way of making love is really,' she sobbed, 
' pretty. It ... it took me by surprise ; I was expecting 



THE PENULTIMATE 477 

a beUow and an assault of horns ; and if, dear : — you 
will say, what boarding-school girl have you got with 
you! and I feel myself getting childish: — if Sol in his 
glory had not been so m . . . majestically m . . . magnif- 
icent, nor seemed to show me the king . . . kingdom of 
my dreams, I might have stammered the opposite word 
to the one he heard. Last night, when he took my hand 
kindly before going to bed, I had a fit for dropping on 
my knees to him. I saw him bleed, and he held himseK 
right royally. I told you he did; — Sol in his moral 
grandeur! How infinitely above the physical monarch 
— ^is he not, Emmy? What one dislikes, is the devotion 
of all that grandeur to win a widow. It should be a 
maiden princess. You feel it so, I am sure. And here 
am I, as if a maiden princess were I, demanding romantic 
accessories of rubious vapour in the man condescending 
to implore the widow to wed him. But, tell me, does he 
know everything of his widow — everything? I shall not 
have to go through the frightful chapter?' 

'He is a man with his eyes awake; he knows as much 
as any husband could require to know,' said Emma; 
adding: 'My darling! he trusts you. It is the soul of the 
man that loves you, as it is mine. You will not tease 
him? Promise me. Give yourself frankly. You see it 
clearly before you.' 

' I see compulsion, my dear. What I see, is a regiment 
of Proverbs, bearing placards instead of guns, and each 
one a taunt at women, especially at widows. They march ; 
they form square; they enclose me in the middle, and I 
have their inscriptions to digest. Read that crazy letter 
from Mary Paynham while I am putting on my bonnet. 
I perceive I have been crying like a raw creature in her 
teens. I don't know myself. An advantage of the 
darker complexions is our speedier concealment of the 
traces.' 



478 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

Emma read Miss Paynham's letter, and returned it with 
the comment: 'Utterly crazy.' Tony said : 'Is it not? 
I am to "Pause before I trifle with a noble heart too 
long." She is to "have her happiness in the constant 
prayer for ours"; and she is "warned by one of those 
intimations never failing her, that he runs a serious 
danger." It reads like a Wizard's Almanack. And here : 
"Homogeneity of sentiment the most perfect, is unable 
to contend with the fatal charm, which exercised by an 
indifferent person, must be ascribed to original predes- 
tination." She should be under the wing of Lady Wathin. 
There is the mother for such chicks ! But I 'U own to 
you, Emmy, that after the perusal, I did ask myself a 
question as to my likeness of late to the writer. I have 
drivelled ... I was shuddering over it when you came 
in. I have sentimentalized up to thin smoke. And she 
tells a truth when she says I am not to "count social 
cleverness" — she means volubility — "as a warrant for 
domineering a capacious intelligence" :-T-because of the 
gentleman's modesty. Agreed: I have done it; I am 
contrite. I am going into slavery to make amends for 
presumption. Banality, thy name is marriage !' 

'Your business is to accept life as we have it,' said 
Emma; and Tony shrugged. She was precipitate in 
going forth to her commonplace fate, and scarcely looked 
at the man requested by Emma to escort her to her 
cottage. After their departure, Emma fell into laughter 
at the last words with the kiss of her cheeks : ' Here goes 
old Ireland !' But, from her look and from what she 
had said upstairs, Emma could believe that the singular 
sprite of girlishness invading and governing her latterly, 
had yielded place to the woman she loved. 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 479 



CHAPTER XLIII 

NTJPTIAL chapter; AND OP HOW A BAEELT WILLING 
WOMAN WAS LED TO BLOOM WITH THE NUPTIAL 

SENTIMENT 

Emma watched them on their way through the park, till 
they rounded the beechwood, talking, it could be sur- 
mised, of ordinary matters; the face of the gentleman 
turning at times to his companion's, which steadily fronted 
the gale. She left the ensuing to a prayer for their good 
direction, with a chuckle at Tony's evident feeling of a 
ludicrous posture, and the desperate rush of her agile 
limbs to have it over. But her prayer throbbed almost 
to a supplication that the wrong done to her beloved by 
Dacier — ^the wound to her own sisterly pride rankling as 
an injury to her sex, might be cancelled through the 
union of the woman noble in the sight of God with a 
more manlike man. 

Meanwhile the feet of the couple were going faster than 
their heads to the end of the journey. Diana knew she 
would have to hoist the signal — and how? The pros- 
pect was dumbfoundering. She had to think of appeas- 
ing her Emma. Redworth, for his part, actually sup- 
posed she had accepted his escorting in proof of the plain 
friendship offered him over-night. 

'What do your "birds" do in weather like this?' she 
said. 

' Cling to their perches and wait patiently. It 's the bad 
time with them when you don't hear them chirp.' 

' Of course you foretold the gale. ' 

'Oh, well, it did not require a shepherd or a skipper 
for that.' 



480 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Your grand gift will be useful to a yachtsman.' 

'You like yachting. When I have tried my new 
schooner in the Channel, she is at your command for as 
long as you and Lady Dunstane please.' 

'So you acknowledge that birds — things of nature — 
have their bad time?' 

'They profit ultimately by the deluge and the wreck. 
Nothing on earth is "tucked-up" in perpetuity.' 

' Except the dead. But why should the schooner be at 
our command?' 

'I shall be in Ireland.' 

He could not have said sweeter to her ears or more 
touching. 

'We shall hardly feel safe without the weatherwise on 
board.' 

'You may count on my man Barnes; I have proved 
him. He is up to his work even when he 's bilious : only, 
in that case, occurring about once a fortnight, you must 
leave him to fight it out with the elements.' 

'I rather like men of action to have a temper.* 

'I can't say much for a bilious temper.' 

The weather to-day really seemed of that kind, she 
remarked. He assented, in the shrug manner — ^not to 
dissent : she might say what she would. He helped no- 
where to a lead ; and so quick are the changes of mood at 
such moments that she was now far from him under the 
failure of an effort to come near. But thoughts of Emma 
pressed. 

'The name of the new schooner? Her name is her 
picture to me.' 

'I wanted you to christen her.' 

'Launched without a name?' 

'I took a liberty.' 

Needless to ask, but she did. 'With whom?' 

'I named her Diana.' 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 481 

'May the Goddess of the silver bow and crescent pro- 
tect her ! To me the name is ominous of mischance.' 

'I would commit my fortunes and life . . . !' He 
checked his tongue, ejaculating : 'Omens !' 

She had veered straight away from her romantic as- 
pirations to the blunt extreme of thinking that a widow 
should be wooed in unornamented matter-of-fact, as she 
is wedded, with a 'wilt thou,' and 'I will,' and no deco- 
rative illusions. Downright, for the impoetic creature, 
if you please ! So she rejected the accompaniment of the 
silver Goddess and high seas for an introduction of the 
crisis. 

'This would be a thunderer on our coasts. I had a trial 
of my sailing powers in the Mediterranean.' 

As she said it, her musings on him then, with the con- 
trast of her position toward him now, fierily brushed her 
cheeks ; and she wished him the man to make one snatch 
at her poor lost small butterfly bit of freedom, so that she 
might suddenly feel in haven, at peace with her ex- 
pectant Emma. He could have seen the inviting con- 
sciousness, but he was absurdly watchful lest the flying 
sprays of border trees should strike her. He mentioned 
his fear, and it became an excuse for her seeking protection 
of her veil. 'It is our natural guardian,' she said. 

'Not much against timber,' said he. 

The worthy creature's anxiety was of the pattern of 
cavaliers escorting dames — an exaggeration of honest 
zeal; a present example of clownish goodness, it might 
seem; until entering the larch and firwood along the 
beaten heights, there was a rocking and straining of the 
shallow-rooted trees in a tremendous gust that quite 
pardoned him for curving his arm in a hoop about her 
and holding a shoulder in front. The veil did her positive 
service. 

He was honourably scrupulous not to presume. A right 



482 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

good unimpulsive gentleman : the same that she had 
always taken him for and liked. 

'These firs are not taproots/ he observed, by way of 
apology. 

Her dress volmned and her ribands rattled and chirruped 
on the verge of the slope. 'I will take your arm here,' 
she said. 

Redworth received the little hand, sasang : ' Lean to 
me.' 

They descended upon great surges of wind piping and 
driving every light surface-atom as foam; and they 
blinked and shook ; even the man was shaken. But their 
arms were interlinked and they grappled; the battering 
enemy made them one. It might mean nothing, or every- 
thing : to him it meant the sheer blissful instant. 

At the foot of the hill, he said : 'It 's harder to keep to 
the terms of yesterday.' 

' What were they ? ' said she, and took his breath more 
than the fury of the storm had done. 

'Raise the veil, I beg.' 

'Widows do not wear it.' 

The look revealed to him was a fugitive of the wilds, no 
longer the glittering shooter of arrows. 

'Have you . . .?' changed to me, was the signification 
understood. ' Can you ? — ^f or life ! Do you think you 
can?' 

His poverty in the pleading language melted her. 
' What I cannot do, my best of friends, is to submit to be 
seated on a throne, with you petitioning. Yes, as far as 
concerns this hand of mine, if you hold it worthy of you. 
We will speak of that. Now tell me the name of the weed 
trailing along the hedge there.' 

He knew it well ; a common hedgerow weed ; but the 
placid diversion baffled him. It was clematis, he said. 

' It drags in the dust when it has no firm arm to cling to. 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 483 

I passed it beside you yesterday with a flaunting mind and 
not a suspicion of a likeness. How foolish I was ! I could 
volubly sermonize; only it should be a young maid to 
listen. Forgive me the yesterday.' 

'You have never to ask. You withdraw your hand — 
was I rough?' 

'No,' she smiled demurely; 'it must get used to the 
shackles : but my cottage is in sight. I have a growing 
love for the place. We will enter it like plain people — if 
you think of coming in.' 

As she said it she had a slight shock of cowering under 
eyes tolerably hawkish in their male glitter ; but her cool- 
ness was not disturbed, and without any apprehensions 
she reflected on what has been written of the siUy division 
and war of the sexes : — which two might surely enter on 
an engagement to live together amiably, unvexed by that 
barbarous old fowl and falcon interlude. Cool herself, she 
imagined the same of him, having good grounds for the 
delusion ; so they passed through the cottage-garden and 
beneath the low porchway, into her little sitting-room, 
where she was proceeding to speak composedly of her 
preference for cottages, while imtying her bonnet-strings : 
— 'If I had begun my life in a cottage !' — when really a 
big storm-wave caught her from shore and whirled her to 
mid-sea, out of every sensibility but the swimming one of 
her loss of self in the man. 

'You would not have been here!' was all he said. She 
was up at his heart, fast-locked, imdergoing a change 
greater than the sea works ; her thoughts one blush, her 
brain a fire-fount. This was not hke being se^-ted on a 
throne. 

'There,' said he, loosening his hug, 'now you belong to 
me ! I know you from head to foot. After that, my 
darling, I could leave you for years, and call you wife, and 
be sure of you. I could swear it for you — my life on it ! 



484 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

That 's what I think of you. Don't wonder that I took 
my chance — the first : — I have waited !' 

Truer word was never uttered, she owned, coming into 
some harmony with man's kiss on her mouth : the man 
violently metamorphozed to a stranger, acting on rights 
she had given him. And who was she to dream of denying 
them ? Not an idea in her head ! Bound verily to be 
thankful for such love, on hearing that it dated from the 
night in Ireland. ... 'So in love with you that, on my 
soul, your happiness was my marrow — whatever you 
wished ; anything you chose. It 's reckoned a fool's part. 
No, it 's love : the love of a woman — the one woman ! I 
was like the hand of a clock to the springs. I taught this 
old watch-dog of a heart to keep guard and bury the bones 
you tossed him.' 

'Ignorantly, admit,' said she, and could have bitten her 
tongue for the empty words that provoked : ' Would you 
have flung him nothing?' and caused a lowering of her 
eyelids and shamed glimpses of recollections. ' I hear you 
have again been defending me. I told you, I think, I 
wished I had begun my girl's life in a cottage. All that I 
have had to endure ! ... or so it seems to me : it may be 
my way of excusing myself : — I know my cunning in that 
peculiar art. I would take my chance of mixing among 
the highest and the brightest.' 

'Naturally.' 

'Culpably.' 

'It brings you to me.' 

'Through a muddy channel.' 

'Your husband has full faith in you, my own.' 

'The faith has to be summoned and is buffeted, as we 
were just now on the hill. I wish he had taken me from a 
cottage.' 

'You pushed for the best society, like a fish to its native 
sea.' 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 485 

'Pray say, a salmon to the riverheads.' 

'Better,' Redworth laughed joyfully, between admira- 
tion of the tongue that always outflew him, and of the face 
he reddened. 

By degrees her apter and neater terms of speech helped 
her to a notion of regaining some steps of her sunken 
ascendancy, under the weight of the novel masculine pres- 
sure on her throbbing blood; and when he bent to her to- 
take her lord's farewell of her, after agreeing to go and 
delight Enmia with a message, her submission and her 
personal pride were not so much at variance: perhaps! 
because her buzzing head had no ideas. 'Tell Emma you 
have undertaken to wash the blackamoor as white as she 
can be,' she said perversely, in her spite at herself for not 
coming, as it were, out of the dawn to the man she could 
consent to wed : and he replied : 'I shall tell her my dark 
girl pleads for a fortnight's grace before she and I set sail 
for the West coast of Ireland' : conjuring a picture that 
checked any protest against the shortness of time : — and 
Emma would surely be his ally. 

They talked of the Dublin Ball : painfully to some of 
her thoughts. But Redworth kissed that distant brilliant 
night as freshly as if no belabouring years roUed in the 
chasm : which led her to conceive partly, and wonderingly, 
the nature of a strong man's passion; and it subjugated 
the woman knowing of a contrast. The smart of the blow 
dealt her by hina who had fired the passion in her became a 
burning regret for the loss of that fair fame she had sacri- 
ficed to him, and could not bring to her truer lover: 
though it was but the outer view of herself — the world's 
view; only she was generous and of honest conscience, 
and but for the sake of her truer lover, she would mentally 
have allowed the world to lash and abuse her, without a 
plea of material purity. Could it be named? The 
naming of it in her clear mind lessened it to accidental : — 



486 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

By good fortune, she was no worse! — She said to Red- 
worth, when finally dismissing him ; ' I bring no real dis- 
grace to you, my friend.' — ^To have had this sharp spiritual 
battle at such a time, was proof of honest conscience, rarer 
among women, as the world has fashioned them yet, than 
the purity demanded of them. — His answer: 'You are 
my wife !' rang in her hearing. 

When she sat alone at last, she was incapable, despite 
her nature's imaginative leap to brightness, of choosing 
any single period, auspicious or luminous or flattering, 
since the hour of her first meeting this man, rather 
than the grey light he cast on her, promising helpfulness, 
and inspiring a belief in her capacity to help. Not the 
Salvatore high raptures nor the nights of social applause 
could appear preferable : she strained her shattered wits 
to try them. As for her superlunary sphere, it was in 
fragments ; and she mused on the singularity, considerimg 
that she was not deeply enamoured. Was she so at all? 
The question drove her to embrace the dignity of being 
reasonable — under Emmy's guidance. For she did not 
stand firmly alone; her story confessed it. Marriage 
might be the archway to the road of good service, even as 
our passage through the flesh may lead to the better state. 
She had thoughts of the kind, and had them while en- 
couraging herself to deplore the adieu to her little musk- 
scented sitting-room, where a modest freedom breathed, 
and her individuality had seemed pointing to a straighter 
growth. 
She nodded subsequently to the truth of her happy 
1 Emma's remark : 'You were created for the world, Tony.' 
} A woman of blood and imagination in the warring world, 
'-.without a mate whom she can revere, subscribes to a like- 
jness with those independent minor realms between 
f greedy mighty neighbours, which conspire and undermine 
when they do not openly threaten to devour. So, then, 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 487 

this union, the return to the wedding yoke, received 
sanction of grey-toned reason. She was not enamoured : 
she could say it to herself. She had, however, been sur- 
prised, both by the man and her unprotesting sub- 
mission ; surprised and warmed, unaccountably warmed. 
Clearness of mind in the woman chaste by nature, how- 
ever little ignorant it allowed her to be in the general re- 
view of herself, could not compass the immediately per- 
sonal, with its acknowledgement of her subserviency to 
touch and pressure — and more, stranger, her readiness 
to kindle. She left it unexplained. Unconsciously the 
image of Dacier was effaced. Looking backward, her 
heart was moved to her long-constant lover with most 
pitying tender wonderment — stormy man, as her threat- 
ened senses told her that he was. Looking at him, she 
had to mask her being abashed and mastered. And 
looking forward, her soul fell in prayer for this true man's 
never repenting of his choice. Sure of her now, Mr. 
Thomas Redworth had returned to the station of the 
courtier, and her feminine sovereignty was not ruffled 
to make her feel too feminine. Another revelation was 
his playful talk when they were more closely intimate. 
He had his humour as well as his hearty relish of 
hers. 

'If all Englishmen were like him!' she chimed with 
Emma Dunstane's eulogies, under the influence. 

'My dear,' the latter replied, 'we should simply march 
over the Four Quarters and be blessed by the nations ! 
Only, avoid your trick of dashing headlong to the other 
extreme. He has his faults.' 

'Tell me of them,' Diana cooed for an answer. 'Do. 
I want the flavour. A girl would be satisfied with super- 
human excellence. A widow asks for feature.' 

'To my thinking, the case is, that if it is a widow who 
sees the superhuman excellence in a man, she may be very 



488 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

well contented to cross the bridge with him,' rejoined 
Emma. 

'Suppose the bridge to break, and for her to fall into 
the water, he rescuing her — ^then perhaps !' 

'But it has been happening !' 

'But piecemeal, in extension, so slowly. I go to him 
a derelict, bearing a story of the sea ; empty of ideas. I 
remember sailing out of harbour passably well freighted 
for commerce.' 

' When Tom Redworth has had command of the " dere- 
lict" a week, I should like to see her!' 

The mention of that positive captaincy drowned Diana 
in morning colours. She was dominated, physically and 
morally, submissively too. What she craved, in the ab- 
sence of the public whiteness which could have caused 
her to rejoice in herself as a noble gift, was the spring of 
enthusiasm. Emma touched a quivering chord of pride 
with her hint at the good augury, and foreshadowing of 
the larger Union, in the Irishwoman's bestowal of her 
hand on the open-minded Englishman she had learned 
to trust. The aureole glimmered transiently : she could 
neither think highly of the woman about to be wedded, 
nor poetically of the man; nor, therefore, rosily of the 
ceremony, nor other than vacuously of life. And yet, as 
she avowed to Emma, she had gathered the three rarest 
good things of life : a faithful friend, a faithful lover, a 
faithful servant: the two latter exposing an unimagined 
quality of emotion. Danvers, on the night of the great 
day for Redworth, had undressed her with trembling 
fingers, and her mistress was led to the knowledge that 
the maid had always been all eye; and on reflection 
to admit that it came of a sympathy she did not 
share. 

But when Celtic brains are reflective on their emotional 
vessel they shoot direct as the arrow of logic. Diana's 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 489 

glance at the years behind lighted every moving figure to 
a shrewd transparency, herself among them. She was 
driven to the conclusion that the granting of any of her 
heart's wild wishes in those days would have lowered 
her — or frozen. Dacier was a coldly luminous image; 
still a tolling name; no longer conceivably her mate. 
Recollection rocked, not she. The politician and citizen 
was admired : she read the man ; — more to her own dis- 
credit than to his, but she read him, and if that is done 
by the one of two lovers who was true to love, it is the 
God of the passion pronouncing a final release from the 
shadow of his chains. 

Three days antecedent to her marriage, she went down 
the hill over her cottage chimneys with Redworth, after 
hearing him praise and cite to Emma Dunstane sentences 
of a morning's report of a speech delivered by Dacier to 
his constituents. She alluded to it, that she might air 
her power of speaking of the man coolly to him, or else 
for the sake of stirring afresh some sentiment he had 
roused ; and he repeated his high opinion of the orator's 
political wisdom : whereby was revived in her memory 
a certain reprehensible view, belonging to her period of 
mock-girlish naughtiness — too vile ! — as to his paternal 
benevolence, now to clear vision the loftiest manliness. 
What did she do? She was Irish; therefore intuitively 
decorous in amatory challenges and interchanges. But 
she was an impulsive woman, and foliage was thick 
around, only a few small birds and heaven seeing; and 
penitence and admiration sprang the impulse. It had 
to be this or a burst of weeping : — she put a kiss upon his 
arm. 

She had omitted to think that she was dealing with a 
lover a man of smothered fire, who would be electrically 
alive to the act through a coat-sleeve. Redworth had his 
impulse. He kept it under, — she felt the big breath he 



490 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

drew in. Imagination began busily building a nest for 
him, and enthusiasm was not sluggish to make a home 
of it. The impulse of each had wedded; in ex- 
pression and repression; her sensibility told her of 
the stronger. 

She rose on the morning of her marriage day with his 
favourite Planxty Kelly at her lips, a natural bubble of 
the notes. Emma drove down to the cottage to breakfast 
and superintend her bride's adornment, as to which, 
Diana had spoken slightingly ; as well as of the ceremony, 
and the institution, and this life itself: — she would be 
married out of her cottage, a widow, a cottager, a woman 
under a cloud ; yes, a sober -person taking at last a right 
practical step, to please her two best friends. The change 
was marked. She wished to hide it, wished to confide it. 
Emma was asked: 'How is he this morning?' and at 
the answer, describing his fresh and spirited looks, and his 
kind ways with Arthur Rhodes, and his fim with Sullivan 
Smith, and the satisfaction with the bridegroom declared 
by Lord Larrian (invalided from his Rock and unexpect- 
ingly informed of the wedding), Diana forgot that she had 
kissed her, and this time pressed her lips, ra a manner to 
convey the secret bridally. 

'He has a lovely day.' 

'And bride,' said Emma. 

' If you two think so ! I should like to agree with my 
dear old lord and bless him for the prize he takes, though 
it feels itself at present rather like a Christmas bon-bon — 
a piece of sugar in the wrap of a rhymed motto. He is 
kind to Arthur, you say?' 

'Like a cordial elder brother.' 

'Dear love, I have it at heart that I was harsh upon 
Mary Paynham for her letter. She meant well — and I 
fear she suffers. And it may have been a bit my fault. 
Blind that I was ! When you say " cordial elder brother," 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 491 

you make him appear beautiful to me. The worst 
of that is, one ^becomes aware of the inability to 
match him.' 

'Read with his eyes when you meet him this morning, 
my Tony.' 

The secret was being clearly perceived by Emma, whose 
pride in assisting to dress the beautiful creature for her 
marriage with the man of men had a tinge from the hy- 
menseal brand, exulting over Dacier, and in the compen- 
sation coming to her beloved for her first luckless footing 
on this road. 

'How does he go down to the church?' said Diana. 

'He walks down. Lukin and his Chief drive. He 
walks, with your Arthur and Mr. Sullivan Smith. He is 
on his way now.' 

Diana looked through the window in the direction of the 
hill. 'That is so like him, to walk to his wedding !' 

Emma took the place of Danvers in the office of the 
robing, for the maid, as her nMstress managed to hint, was 
too steeped 'in the colour of the occasion' to be exactly 
tasteful, and had the art, no doubt through sympathy, of 
charging permissible common words with explosive mean- 
ings : — she was in an amorous palpitation, of the reflected 
state. After several knockings and enterings of the bed- 
chamber-door, she came hurriedly to say: 'And your 
pillow, ma'am? I had almost forgotten it !' A question 
that caused her mistress to drop the gaze of a moan on 
Emma, with patience trembling. Diana preferred a hard 
pillow, and usually carried her own about, 'Take it,' she 
had to reply. 

The friends embraced before descending to step into the 
fateful carriage. 'And tell me,' Emma said, 'are not 
your views of life brighter to-day ? ' 

'Too dazzled to know ! It may be a lamp close to the 
eyes or a radiance of sim. I hope they are.' 



492 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'You are beginning to think hopefully again?' 

'Who can really think, and not think hopefully? You 
were in my mind last night, and you brought a little boat 
to sail me past despondency of life and the fear of extinc- 
tion. When we despair or discolour things, it is our senses 
in revolt, and they have made the sovereign brain their 
drudge. I heard you whisper, with your very breath in my 
ear : " There is nothing the body suffers that the soul may not 
profit by." That is Emma's history. With that I sail into 
the dark ; it is my promise of the immortal : teaches 
me to see immortality for us. It comes from you, my 
Emmy.' 

If not a great saying, it was in the heart of deep thoughts: 
proof to Emma that her Tony's mind had resumed its old 
clear high-aiming activity ; therefore that her nature was 
working sanely, and that she accepted her happiness, and 
bore love for a dower to her husband. No blushing con- 
fession of the woman's love of the man would have told 
her so much as the return to mental harmony with 
the laws of life shown in her darling's pellucid little 
sentence. 

She revolved it long after the day of the wedding. To 
Emma, constantly on the dark decline of the unillumined 
verge, between the two worlds, those words were a radi- 
ance and a nourishment. Had they waned she would have 
trimmed them to feed her during her soul-sister's absence. 
They shone to her of their vitality. She was lying along 
her sofa, facing her South-western window, one afternoon 
of late November, expecting Tony from her lengthened 
honeymoon trip, while a sunset in the van of frost, not 
without celestial musical reminders of Tony's husband, 
began to deepen ; and as her friend was coming, she mused 
on the scenes of her friend's departure, and how Tony, 
issuing from her cottage porch had betrayed her feelings 
in the language of her sex by stooping to lift above her 



NUPTIAL CHAPTER 493 

head and kiss the smallest of her landlady's children 
ranged up the garden-path to bid her farewell over their 
strewing of flowers ; — and of her murmur to Tony, enter- 
ing the churchyard, among the grave-mounds : ' Old 
Ireland won't repent it ! ' and Tony's rejoinder, at the sight 
of the bridegroom advancing, beaming : 'A singular 
transformation of Old England!' — and how, having 
numberless ready sources of laughter and tears down the 
run of their heart-in-heart intimacy, all spouting up for 
a word in the happy tremour of the moment, they had both 
bitten their lips and blinked on a moisture of the eyelids. 
Now the dear woman was really wedded, wedded and 
mated. Her letters breathed, in their own lively or 
thoughtful flow, of the perfect mating. Emma gazed into 
the depths of the waves of crimson, where brilliancy of 
colour came out of central heaven pretematurally near on 
earth, till one shade less brilliant seemed an ebbing away 
to boundless remoteness. Angelical and mortal mixed, 
making the glory overhead a sign of the close union of our 
human conditions with the ethereal and psychically 
divined. Thence it grew that one thought in her breast 
became a desire for such extension of days as would give 
her the blessedness to clasp in her lap — if those kind 
heavens would grant it ! — a child of the marriage of the 
two noblest of human souls, one the dearest ; and so have 
proof at heart that her country and our earth are fruitful 
in the good, for a glowing future. She was deeply a 
woman, dumbly a poet. True poets and true women 
have the native sense of the divineness of what the world 
deems gross material substance. Emma's exaltation in 
fervour had not subsided when she held her beloved in 
her arms under the dusk of the withdrawing redness. 
They sat embraced, with hands locked, in the unlighted 
room, and Tony spoke of the splendid sky. ' You watched 
it knowing I was on my way to you?' 



494 DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS 

'Praying, dear.' 
'Forme?' 

'That I might Hve long enough to be a godmother.' 
There was no reply: there was an involuntary little, 
twitch of Tony's fingers. 



THE END 



•^,11!